There are very few things that are true of all of humanity. We are all oxygen breathers. We are all carbon based. We all love bacon. (You can only hide from the truth for so long, vegans.) Perhaps the most unfortunate universal trait is this: We love to see other people suffer. Half of comedy, two thirds of entertainment, and all of tabloid journalism is rooted in the guilty pleasure of schadenfreude. Shameful joy perhaps, but a serious cash cow, and like all revenue streams, it can be used for good as well as evil.
If you want to get rich, find a guilt-free way to show off loads of people getting hurt. Violence in films, for example. Why did Titanic make so much money? Was it the acting? Was it the romance? The guaranteed body count of 1500 sure didn’t hurt. Grand Theft Auto managed to become one of the most profitable game franchises of all time using the simple formula of hooker + baseball bat + fire truck + assault rifle = a good time had by all. UFC, WWE, NFL, and all sorts of other acronyms owe their every existence to the promise of raw unadulterated pain. And for those of you who say that these are just men’s things and that ladies would never revel in such, I have two things to say. First, it is awfully sexist of you to suggest that a woman wouldn’t enjoy seeing a good inside leg kick or gator roll, and second, what about tearjerkers, daytime dramas, and soap operas? For that matter, I can’t think of a real opera that didn’t have enough emotional anguish to depress Richard Simmons – who as we all know is the international baseline for gaiety. In fact, I submit to you that women love suffering even more than men, just as long as it is the emotional kind. For proof, look no further than the Lifetime Channel. Nothing but terrible things happening to women, 24/7, 365. And what is it? Television for WOMEN.
So we know that pain and sorrow are surefire money makers, and there are plenty of unscrupulous people out there exploiting them for personal gain. That much is established. The question, then, is where are the scrupulous people using pain and suffering for the public good? Nuclear technology can be used for clean energy just as easily as for global devastation. Why aren’t people putting the same principle to work for something like charity? Well, some people are. Desert Bus For Hope, for example. DB4H is a charity that combines the desire to do good with the desire to inflict misery. The premise is simple. A group of willing do-gooders sit themselves down infront of the most boring game ever devised. It is nothing but an 8 hour bus ride through the desert. The player has to hold one button, and periodically correct the bus, which pulls slightly. It isn’t so much a video game as cruel and unusual punishment. As they play, people donate money. More money, more skull cracking boredom. How potent is the powerful synergy of punishment and charity? In three years they have managed to raise nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
Clearly there are positive outlets for the human urge to punish. All we need to do is put some thought into just how we can solve these problems. Back in high school my friends and I came up with one… Okay, technically I stole the idea from a comedian, but it has merit, so I’m saying it anyway. See, some people have terminal diseases. Many of them, in the face of the inevitable, want to take their own lives. Assisted suicide is sometimes the answer, but it is controversial. Some would say smoking is little more than assisted suicide, but people still do it because it is cool and companies still support it because it is profitable. All you need to do is make assisted suicide cool and profitable. Well how about this: Televised, pay-per-view, terminal patient death matches. Massive tournaments made up of people with chronic, incurable, withering diseases, all looking to end it all. You let Vegas set odds on it. You let America tune in. The money would FLOW. And then, when there is one man standing? You take half of the money and devote it to finding a cure for that disease. The patients either get cured or get put out of their misery, and society gets its blood lust fix for another week.
I’m not saying that suffering is the solution to all of the world’s problems. All I’m saying that with a little work it could be. Our leaders know it. Why do you think they declared war on everything that was troubling society? War on drugs, war on crime. They know that there is no problem that a little organized agony can’t cure. I say we embrace it. And if it isn’t effective? Well, at least it will be entertaining.
If you’ve got any fun ways to misfortune into a fortune for a good cause, drop us a line or leave us a comment. Remember, it is for a good cause.