Most city dwellers tend to avoid eye contact with the homeless, a fact that made one advocacy group wonder: Would you recognize your own relatives if they were living on the street?
New York City Rescue Mission teamed with agency Silver + Partner for a hidden-camera stunt that filmed people as they walked past loved ones dressed to look homeless. Later, the passersby were shown video footage of themselves walking past their relatives without a second glance.
As you'd probably expect, no one recognized their family members. One woman even walked right past her mom, uncle and aunt.
The stunt doesn't lead to any emotional breakdowns or similar histrionics, which is somewhat refreshing at a time when "gotcha" videos focus so hard on over-the-top reactions and immediate life-changing self-reflection. But the unwitting participants clearly feel ashamed of their oversight.
Director Jun Diaz from production house Smuggler tells Fast Company that one person who was filmed asked not to be included in the final video "because they couldn’t handle the fact that they walked by their family."
On a related website, MakeThemVisible.com, the rescue mission further humanizes the needy by sharing photographs of real homeless New Yorkers, smiling while sharing their personal passions and hobbies.