"We need this everywhere, at all times."
January 8, 2013 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Andrew Hales and his sister Jacqueline made videos of hugging strangers at Venice Beach and in Rome. It doesn't always work, but when it does, it's can be very heartwarming. [via]
posted by quin (109 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
There is a good reason "free hugs" signs and glomping are forbidden at many cons.
posted by Nomyte at 8:27 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I predict this thread will be full of people saying this is a violation of personal space and that the people saying it could really use a hug.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:29 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is a violation of personal space.

/ I'm waiting.....
posted by HuronBob at 8:30 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Potomac Avenue, trivial psychic.
posted by Nomyte at 8:31 AM on January 8, 2013


At least wear a t-shirt saying 'Free Hugs' or something so people know what's happening as you veer into their space with your arms outstretched.

'Many have died needlessly' popped into my head.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:32 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


*hugs huron and his little dog too*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:33 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love hugs... from people I know.

A random stranger trying to hug me in a tourist trap like Venice Beach? I would immediately assume this was either a cult member or someone trying to pick my pocket.
posted by Joh at 8:33 AM on January 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


The trajectory of "Free Hugs" from AMAZING to GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME CREEPER has been fascinating and perhaps inevitable.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:34 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like a good hug as much as the next person, but at the risk of sounding like a grizzled curmudgeon, this is rather.....invasive. For a whole host of reasons, invading someone's personal space with your outstretched arms is sort of rude. Though I'm happy for those people who were glad to be hugged, I imagine there were just as many who felt unsettled and icked out.

Now excuse me as I go rub my face with a Brillo pad and eat my bowl of nails {grumble grumble grumble}.
posted by but no cigar at 8:35 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I predict this thread will be full of people saying that they are NOT going to allow ads in order to watch Nomyte's Hulu video.

and... thanks, Potomac Ave.
posted by HuronBob at 8:35 AM on January 8, 2013


Well, that's one way to pick pockets.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:36 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Damn. It takes me too long to type comments. Must type faster, by golly.
posted by but no cigar at 8:37 AM on January 8, 2013


Waiting for the video where he gets his clock cleaned.

Seconding Thirding the pickpocket suspicion.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:37 AM on January 8, 2013


I have only this to add: Ron Jeremy hasn't aged a bit in 30 years.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:38 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Young man, can't see his eyes behind his sunglasses, busy public space with lots of street traders and hustlers... yeah, GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME alarms for me.
posted by alasdair at 8:38 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


And, I looked up the legal definition of "assault" ("an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.") .. this may fall, just a smidgen, into that realm...

Combine that with Florida's "stand your ground" law (A stand-your-ground law states that a person may justifiably use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat) and you've got a bit of a mess!
posted by HuronBob at 8:38 AM on January 8, 2013


*backs slowly away from huron's armed dog*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:43 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


[examines own privilege] Oh, yeah, and I'm a fit male. So I'd just feel threatened for my wallet (whether him or his sister). But I see he pulls the same thing on young women, so he's just another creepy and entitled man who thinks that women should pay him attention and stop whatever they're doing to touch him. Yuck.
posted by alasdair at 8:43 AM on January 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Seriously, some of you would want that dude's naked pits all up in your business?
posted by uncleozzy at 8:48 AM on January 8, 2013


I knew a guy who set up a booth in the Montreal metro with the sign "Shave your head, right here, right now." He sat there with an electric razor all day. No takers.
posted by Beardman at 8:50 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Why is there such a disconnect between the apparently twee motives of people doing the hugging-strangers thing and their apparent (in)ability to imagine how it might feel to the other person?
posted by postcommunism at 8:51 AM on January 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


The person half a block away pointing a zoomed in camera at you just makes it all the sweeter
posted by mike_bling at 8:54 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


We were in Catania Sicily last spring and were accosted by serial huggers. Actually just some goofy college kids hugging strangers in a square on a Sunday afternoon. Compulsive huggers on right, family on left. Flickr photo. It was just kinda kooky, not especially invasive or weird.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:01 AM on January 8, 2013


Why is there such a disconnect between the apparently twee motives of people doing the hugging-strangers thing and their apparent (in)ability to imagine how it might feel to the other person?

Too much understanding of the other and you might not want to hug them.
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:04 AM on January 8, 2013


I predict this thread will be full of people saying this is a violation of personal space and that the people saying it could really use a hug.

I could probably use a hug from a close friend at a quiet moment for my own peace of mind, but I don't really think that I need a hug from a random stranger in a public place for internet's amusement.

I don't think that makes me all that unreasonable, really.
posted by mhoye at 9:07 AM on January 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


The trajectory of "Free Hugs" from AMAZING to GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME CREEPER has been fascinating and perhaps inevitable.

Well, yeah, for some of us it was always the latter. There is nothing that anyone here can say to make me feel the slightest bit bad or guilty about not wanting to be groped by a stranger.
posted by elizardbits at 9:09 AM on January 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


Why is there such a disconnect between the apparently twee motives of people doing the hugging-strangers thing and their apparent (in)ability to imagine how it might feel to the other person?

Self-involved people judge their actions toward others in light of their own internal narrative rather than by making the effort to think in terms of what those people might want.

So to someone like this, everyone should be enchanted by their quirky, childlike affection for the world instead of realizing that many people would find it a pathetic and emotionally-stunted bid for attention if not a scam or creepy quasi-sexual assault.
posted by winna at 9:12 AM on January 8, 2013 [21 favorites]


I have no problem with strangers hugging me without my permission, however I will bill them $20 for the privilege, as that appears to be the going rate in town. Also, I will send a rather insistent associate to collect my fee at some random time when they are just walking around in public. Everyone needs a mug.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:20 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


When I became a man, I put away childish things — like affection and whimsy.

I think I mentioned it before, but as a toddler, I used to hug people firmly before delivering a punishing bite to the midsection. I might want to dust it off and try it out.
posted by Nomyte at 9:23 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


many people would find it a pathetic

I don't know that I find it pathetic, it's just abrasive in this really naive way.
posted by postcommunism at 9:23 AM on January 8, 2013


No touching!
posted by something something at 9:24 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]



The trajectory of "Free Hugs" from AMAZING to GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME CREEPER has been fascinating and perhaps inevitable.


I think it's illustrative to compare these videos to this one back when "Free Hugs" first got viral as A Thing. Correct for the editing and swelling music and whatnot. In it, Harry Hugger is holding aloft the FREE HUGS sign and letting anyone interested come to him. These have these random schmoes veering after people with arms wide. Fairly important difference in approach.
posted by Drastic at 9:31 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's not really about the hug, it's about them getting people to react on camera for entertainment. Genuine hugs for benevolent purposes don't need an immediate explanation of "we're doing a video on hugging people."

/curmudgeon
posted by chundo at 9:34 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Physical contact holds different significance for different people (like most things, duh).
posted by mean cheez at 9:38 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the worst. I absolutely hate being hugged, even by people I otherwise like. I don't need your pit smell all up in my face, thx.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:41 AM on January 8, 2013


It was obvious from the musical selection that this was a heartwarming activity. Weren't you listening?
posted by etc. at 9:47 AM on January 8, 2013


Seriously, some of you would want that dude's naked pits all up in your business?

I'm going to need a better shot of the pits before I can answer that.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:50 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


glomping

Ugh, why is this even a word.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:51 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why is it even a thing?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:53 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


They cut the really hilarious scene when this guy encountered my patented "tack vest." Oh, the laughter! And tears.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:56 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was obvious from the musical selection that this was a heartwarming activity. Weren't you listening?

You know what else is heartwarming? That's right: Ripping out a glomper's still-beating heart and urinating on it. On camera. With musical accompaniment.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:57 AM on January 8, 2013


You know what else is heartwarming?

I am not sure that would actually warm the heart, which would probably have a higher temperature inside the chest than urine could achieve. If you threw the heart on a hot griddle, it would probably achieve your goal, but urinating on a griddle is unsanitary. And gross.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:00 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I still can't figure out if this is the best thing EVER, an epic WIN or an epic FAIL.

Can someone hug me please?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:06 AM on January 8, 2013


I was surprised that he didn't have a sign or even ask. How did he think this is okay?
posted by Sangermaine at 10:06 AM on January 8, 2013


Hugs are for closers.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:07 AM on January 8, 2013


Steak knives are for serial huggers.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:08 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rotisserie kiss machine.
posted by Nomyte at 10:09 AM on January 8, 2013


I am not sure that would actually warm the heart, which would probably have a higher temperature inside the chest than urine could achieve. If you threw the heart on a hot griddle, it would probably achieve your goal, but urinating on a griddle is unsanitary. And gross.

Fair point, GenjiandProust, fair point. Clearly, I need to urinate on the heart before ripping it out of the chest. Thanks for the tip!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:14 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, you not only want to touch me but film me without consent too? Kindly piss off and die.

Beyond even the personal space thing, why is it so hard for these hug-dispensers to realize that total strangers walking down a street are busy living their own fucking lives and thinking their own thoughts and generally minding their own business, and that some snowflake's narcissistic exhibitionism actively interferes with their ability to do that unmolested?
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:28 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I became a man, I put away childish things — like affection and whimsy.

Anyone who knows me even in passing knows I'm a whimsical freak. But when I'm singing a song I made up about a little cheepy bird who knitted his friend the hamster a hat for Christmas*, I am not forcing random strangers to cheep along with the chorus and do the dance of grateful pride of the hamster.

Expecting other people to comply with your whims just because you want them to do so is childish in the bad way.

*it is a stirring paen to friendship, love, and knitted outerwear with many cheeps
posted by winna at 10:31 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I might be the weirdo here, but if someone I didn't know approached me like that, and I realized that they knew they did not know me and were walking at me because of some silly whimsical shit white people do on Venice Beach, I would almost definitely punch their teeth.
posted by broadway bill at 10:39 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Everyone needs a hug.*

*Seek medical assistance if hugging results in being punched in the fucking face
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:51 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Big talk on the internet.

Still, I wonder how many of the attempted (edited-out) hugs ended in profanity (which is probably how I would end the engagement).
posted by smidgen at 10:58 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Big talk on the internet.

Can't speak for any of the other big talkers, but given that I'm not at Venice Beach at the moment and the Internet is where this conversation is taking place, that's pretty much a limit to any reaction I might have had. On the other hand, I have been urinating on random people all morning in the off chance that one of them might try to hug me. You can never be too sure.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:13 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


My knee jerk reaction would be to jerk my knee into his nuts.
posted by desjardins at 11:22 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, FFS people! The violent sentiment here, as much as I understand it, is getting mean-spirited and, frankly, a little disturbing.
posted by Nomyte at 11:27 AM on January 8, 2013


Only a little? Damn, I'm slipping.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:30 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Violating a person's space, without their consent, for the entertainment of rubes on the Internet is obnoxious.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:42 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's a nice idea, in theory. I prefer not to have a random stranger hug me. Even if it's a really nice person who means well. Filming the interaction would cause me to call the police, and politely request that the hugger be arrested, esp. since there is video evidence. I don't punch people, and being misguided isn't cause to make me want to hurt someone, but really, no.

There's something kind of twee and obnoxious about it. And a certain amount of "let's fuck with people's heads, in a way that looks like trying to be nice." But twee, obnoxious, harassing, headfuckers mostly don't cause me to want to hurt them, mostly.

I put in the Oxford comma so I could cite this.
posted by theora55 at 11:42 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


winna: "So to someone like this, everyone should be enchanted by their quirky, childlike affection for the world instead of realizing that many people would find it a pathetic and emotionally-stunted bid for attention if not a scam or creepy quasi-sexual assault."

Yes. What I really think gets underlined here is that affection for the world is not the same thing as affection for a person. You like people for specific reasons, after you've gotten to know things about them or spent time with them, usually by treating them as special. Obviously we know people who have had affection for lots of people - Mr. Rogers comes to mind. But Mr. Rogers didn't treat "kids" as one kind of being, all of whom should respond well to a particular kind of attention, and if they didn't, they were obviously poor sports.

Hugging everyone you meet on a boardwalk is not a replacement for making good relationships with people founded on getting to know them, regardless of whether or not those relationships include hugging.
posted by Apropos of Something at 11:46 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, we do not need that. If that ever happens anywhere near me there will be trouble. Stay the hell out of my personal space.
posted by Decani at 11:53 AM on January 8, 2013


I watched most of this, but did skip some of the middle to see what reactions the woman was getting. I'm in the camp of those that would be a little freaked and a lot suspicious if I was approached like this, but if you look at his style he does seem to make it an invitation by focusing one one person, spreading his arms, and at least trying to sense the response of the hugee. You can see a couple times that he bails (dropping arms) after getting clear body-language messages that the target just wasn't into that. He did seem to press a little when the message wasn't clear, and some of the girl's failed attempts seemed to be that she didn't target one person but approached pairs and got neither.
posted by achrise at 11:53 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm hugging the shit out of all you haters at the next meetup.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:01 PM on January 8, 2013


I don't need your pit smell all up in my face, thx.

And now I have another reason to be glad I'm tall. I never thought about that aspect of hugging (at least as an adult.)
posted by davejay at 12:05 PM on January 8, 2013


The violent sentiment here, as much as I understand it, is getting mean-spirited and, frankly, a little disturbing.

Imagine that you've previously had your personal boundaries violated in the worst way, and then imagine the visceral reaction you might have if a stranger approached you like this. This dude needs a TRIGGER WARNING t-shirt with maybe a flashing light on his head. Or he could just fucking stop this.
posted by desjardins at 12:16 PM on January 8, 2013


Let's just beat up quin for posting this.
posted by Nomyte at 12:20 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


quin posts all kinds of adorable things all the time, sometimes odd things, sometimes freaky things. I hope they know that I (and most people, probably) appreciate their gift for finding things to make us smile most of the time.

If you post enough videos of tiny dogs being adorable, you get a free pass for life if now and then you post a video of people who need remedial etiquette lessons. This is science.
posted by winna at 12:30 PM on January 8, 2013


I like quin. I like this post. I don't like Andrew Hales and his sister Jacqueline. I wouldn't have known that without this post. This is like a public service announcement. The more you know.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:34 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Why do threads like this always have to turn into somebody trying to shame those of us who don't like being touched by strangers?

I am asking this very seriously. I like hugs. I am a hugger. I hug my friends. I hug professional colleagues I know well. I hug my doctor and my dentist and my dentist's hygienist. I hugged the librarian of my local library when she returned to work after a health-related absence. I'm a huggy person. If I ever get to a meetup, I will probably hug people who seem receptive to hugs (at least, that's what happened when I got to an LJ meetup).

But I don't want to be hugged by strangers on the street. Do I have to start a HUG FREE movement to counter the FREE HUGS movement? Because I will do it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:47 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why do threads like this always have to turn into somebody trying to shame those of us who don't like being touched by strangers?

These threads always turn into someone(s) berating others for thinking some out of the ordinary attention-grabbing public behavior should probably be abstained from. The word "grumps" is usually used. They're usually pretty rude about it, too!
posted by adamdschneider at 12:50 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really couldn't watch beyond the first few huggies. Once I saw the reactions of the people he was accosting, I squirmed in my chair and felt embarrassed for the guy. I get the sentiment but so much could go wrong in this type of interaction, I couldn't watch any more.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2013


The word "grumps" is usually used. They're usually pretty rude about it, too!

For the record, I hate hugs the way I hate cilantro, and "grumps" first appears in this thread as part of the above quote. But on the whole, I find the display of public shaming that this thread has become, with commenter after commenter writing that these benighted videomakers deserve scorn and worse, to be incredibly disappointing.

I realize that you have legitimate concerns. But I find it sad that these concerns are present and legitimate. And I also find it sad that we blame these hapless people for the environment of suspicion that they did nothing to create.

It's sad that many people need to mistrust strangers to this extent. It's sad that many people are upset by displays of public affection from passers-by. It's sad that many people are so closed-off, guarded, and vigilant that a well-intentioned stranger can do nothing but upset them. Sometimes it sounds that many people would be happiest as part of a frictionless, faceless, completely anonymous throng. In general, I find the fact that many people are entirely against the idea of interacting with strangers in public, for fear of popping their bubble of anonymous safety, to be incredibly sad. I don't know if it's a cultural difference, but I suspect it is. I really hope it's not the same everywhere.
posted by Nomyte at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm hugging the shit out of all you haters at the next meetup.

You gonna get bit.
posted by elizardbits at 1:27 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's sad many people need to mistrust strangers to this extent

No, you know what's sad? It's sad that I've been groped in public places by strangers ever since I was six years old, and it's sad that Mr. Hales doesn't realize that a lot of women have had this experience and thus don't fucking like being touched by strange men on the street.

It's sad that so many people don't understand basic principles of bodily autonomy. My hugs are for the people I choose to give them to who choose to receive them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:28 PM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Here's who knows if I need a hug: me. Here's who doesn't know if I need a hug: Mr. Hales. Ms. Hales. Anybody in this thread.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:30 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


In general, I find the fact that many people are entirely against the idea of interacting with strangers in public, for fear of popping their bubble of anonymous safety, to be incredibly sad.

It has nothing to do with a bubble of anonymous safety, it has to do with the fact that I am already forced to live my life knowing that a large portion of the population thinks that my body is here for their use, whether or not I consent. Any point at which I can prevent this from happening is a point which I will defend, no matter what the cost to others.
posted by elizardbits at 1:30 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


"grumps" first appears in this thread as part of the above quote

Yeah, I was referring to previous threads, as was the person I responded to.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:31 PM on January 8, 2013


I would fucking punch you. And I'd be totally ok with it. And so would my lawyer, if it came to that.
posted by Kokopuff at 1:37 PM on January 8, 2013


It's sad that many people need to mistrust strangers to this extent. It's sad that many people are upset by displays of public affection from passers-by. It's sad that many people are so closed-off, guarded, and vigilant that a well-intentioned stranger can do nothing but upset them. Sometimes it sounds that many people would be happiest as part of a frictionless, faceless, completely anonymous throng. In general, I find the fact that many people are entirely against the idea of interacting with strangers in public, for fear of popping their bubble of anonymous safety, to be incredibly sad. I don't know if it's a cultural difference, but I suspect it is. I really hope it's not the same everywhere.

It's sad that I have to justify my right to reserve intimacy for those I care about as if it were a disfunction.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:39 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, you know what's sad? It's sad that I've been groped in public places by strangers ever since I was six years old…

It's sad many people need to mistrust strangers to this extent. "Need." Not "feel like." It's sad that many, if not most women keep having these extremely unpleasant experiences and need to mistrust approaching strangers. I think it's sad, and I'm pretty sure you do too. I think it's sad that it isn't otherwise. Wouldn't you like it to be otherwise?
posted by Nomyte at 1:40 PM on January 8, 2013


Yes. Which starts with strangers not feeling they are entitled to touch them without consent. Get it?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:44 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


While I have the same life experience as Sidhedevil and elizardbits (you know, being treated as though my physical self and physical appearance exist for and at the pleasure of others, rather than being something that I personally control), I don't actually assume that the desire not to be touched by strangers is born of mistrust of strangers. Rather, it's a pretty basic tenet of autonomy that one's self is inviolate. It's not that I don't trust you, stranger with only joy and compassion and whimsey in your heart; it's that I don't know you. It's not that you have no right to express your joy and whimsey; it's that your right to your whimsey does not trump my right to physical autonomy.

Those of you who have never experienced a moment of feeling like you had to struggle to create physical autonomy, do you like having strangers wrap their arms around you? You don't mind uninvited full body contact with some person you have never met? That is absolutely foreign to me.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:44 PM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


What I if asserted that my intimacy is violated if someone verbally addresses me in public or makes eye contact with me? There are certainly people who feel that way. But I think it's easier for many people to draw a line between bad verbal interaction (e.g., catcalls) and neutral or positive verbal interaction in public, just as it's relatively easy to draw a line between bad eye contact (ogling) and other kinds of eye contact. But for some reason the only kind of touch is bad touch.
posted by Nomyte at 1:46 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's sad many people need to mistrust strangers to this extent

I really don't mistrust people. I am a cheerful speaker-to-strangers and have lovely conversations all the time with people in public. I don't often fear people, even in situations where I probably should.

But to me, hugs are special. If I hug someone, it means something. It's not a meaningless social ritual - it expresses my affection. So I enforce the right to decide who touches me, because it's my body and my right to reserve physical displays if affection to certain people, even though nothing horrible has ever happened to me to make it more than a matter of principle.

What I think is sad is people who pathologise a simple issue of consent: ask before you touch people and accept their decision.
posted by winna at 1:57 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wanna see them try this some place like Oakland or Detroit. Then I wanna see the medical/dental bills.

Fucking morons. I live in a fucking city, not Bedford Falls or Smallville, KS, and you just fucking don't do this. These assholes are gonna try this on the wrong person (someone not a tourist) and get a fist to the throat.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:31 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I if asserted that my intimacy is violated if someone verbally addresses me in public or makes eye contact with me?

Can we please not waste time with a hypothetical like this? It's clearly intended to portray the people who dislike uninvited physical intimacy as uptight and unreasonable, the sorts who OMG would bite your head off if you even say Hi to them!

No. This is a fairly basic lesson that most people learn by early childhood. Absent a compelling reason — and "there isn't enough whimsy in the world" is not a compelling reason — don't touch other people without their consent.
posted by Lexica at 2:58 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


What I if asserted that my intimacy is violated if someone verbally addresses me in public or makes eye contact with me?

There have been a number of threads on why catcalling and ogling are bad.

What is your problem with asking people if they consent to be touched? Why is that a difficult thing for you?
posted by desjardins at 3:41 PM on January 8, 2013


But for some reason the only kind of touch is bad touch.

Nope. When I meet someone, I shake their hand. Touch equivalent of polite speech.
posted by Apropos of Something at 4:12 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree that you should not hug, kiss, or touch people without consent. But I'm not seeing that being a problem in this particular movie.

The guy was not sneaking up behind people and grabbing them. He, generally at distances greater than thirty feet, opened up his arms and approached them slowly. His body language is, to me, clear intent to hug and gives the other person plenty of time to either say, "Get away from me" or simply imply by their body language, that they don't want him to touch them. It appears to me about half the people in the video do just that.

Consent for the hugs seems to be given.
posted by bswinburn at 4:29 PM on January 8, 2013


What is your problem with asking people if they consent to be touched? Why is that a difficult thing for you?

It's difficult for me to keep talking when you conclude that the things I talk about are the things I actually do. I'm talking about a video of a guy and a girl hugging people in public. I am not talking about my own experience touching people inappropriately.

Also, please stop it with "Why is that a difficult thing for you?" and "Get it?" and words to that effect. That is insulting and unpleasant.
posted by Nomyte at 4:42 PM on January 8, 2013


Nope. When I meet someone, I shake their hand. Touch equivalent of polite speech.

There are places and situations where a brief hug among near-strangers is the correct polite gesture. There are places (or used to be until relatively recently) where men didn't shake hands with women. These things vary. They aren't absolute.
posted by Nomyte at 4:46 PM on January 8, 2013


Being touched without permission is also unpleasant. Being told that it is sad that I don't want that is also insulting.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:48 PM on January 8, 2013


Sorry, bswinburn, that's not really what I'm seeing. In the Venice video, at least, he's often well within 15 feet when the arms go up, and on top of that, he's wearing sunglasses - he's got no way to make any kind of eye contact with the huggees, and quite a few clearly have no idea he's headed for them until he's pretty much right on them.

And I'd also say that quite a few of the huggees are expressing discomfort in their body language even in the middle of the hug. Any given huggee has to make a split second decision between:

a) be physically aggressive with this strange person in the middle of the street in broad daylight

b) "accept" the hug in the most minimal & quickest fashion and then get the hell away from this guy.

There are lots of reasons various people would not choose "a." This is not quite the same thing as "consent is given."
posted by soundguy99 at 4:56 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


With all due respect to the issues of consent that this raises, am I the only one who noticed that even when he does connect those are some pretty half-assed perfunctory hugs he's giving?
posted by benito.strauss at 4:58 PM on January 8, 2013


A few years ago, in a grocery store, a young woman introduced herself to me, and then asked politely if we could hug. We did a gentle stand-up shoulder hug, made polite small talk for a few minutes, and then went our separate ways. Yes, I checked to see that my wallet was still there. I got the sense that she had a "Jesus loves everyone!" vibe about her, but to this day I still wonder what that was about. The fact that she introduced herself and asked politely makes a whole lot of difference from the Hales' approach.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:53 PM on January 8, 2013


Yeah, they're pretty lukewarm hugs, benito.

Also, the Rome video would be better with hugs, and without the follow up "are you Italian?" question spoken in English. Dude seems like a bit of a jerk.
posted by panaceanot at 6:43 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't you like it to be otherwise?

No, and I think your conceptions of public and private space are warped.

E.g. "The very essence of the cell phone’s hideousness, as a social phenomenon–the bad news that stays bad news–is that it enables and encourages the inflicting of the personal and individual on the public and communal. And there is no higher-caliber utterance than “I love you”–nothing worse that an individual can inflict on a communal public space."
posted by stroke_count at 8:34 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This Andrew Hales is the same guy who made the somewhat popular, extremely uncomfortable, and infinitely creepier "Guess Who" videos, where he would sneak up behind people that don't know him, cover their eyes, and try to make them guess who he was. He referred to his actions as a "social experiment" in that one. I agree with those who call him a callous narcissist, and I wouldn't be surprised or feel sorry for him if/when he gets physically injured or sued as a reaction to his idea of fun and fame.

At least there's a potential glimmer of hope for the guy's worth in that he adopts a more upfront approach here, avoiding actual deception and allowing people to move away if they don't want to accept his hug, as some people have pointed out. This makes it less problematic (and probably less legally actionable) but still quite creepy and obnoxious behavior.
posted by Pfardentrott at 10:08 PM on January 8, 2013


See also "Holding People's Hand," his most-watched clip, for more creep factor.

I also have to retract the bit about glimmer of hope in the above message, because after reviewing the timeline it appears his "Guess Who" stunt came out after the hugging videos, not before.
posted by Pfardentrott at 10:20 PM on January 8, 2013


Watch more of the related clips by the same guy (he goes by LAHWF) on the "Guess Who" YouTube page. He's a total creep.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:28 PM on January 8, 2013


And I also find it sad that we blame these hapless people for the environment of suspicion that they did nothing to create are busy perpetuating.


Fixed that for you.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, getting free hugs on the way is not helping. Especially not by some douche only doing so to promote his worthless ass.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:43 AM on January 9, 2013


I must be weird. (checks nick) Oh.

I see this quite different. I see the protagonist taking lessons on reading people. I see him watch and improve. He's making an effort to not be offensive, from my view. So many other folks would have gone at this with a less pleasant attitude.

I am equally fascinated by the reactions he gets, which is the bait that made me interested initially. But I feel bad for the people who are completely cold, while at the same time agreeing that the dude is WAY out of line. I'm a huggy sort of person, but still am bothered by unexpected hugs.

My biggest giggle is the firm knowledge if he'd tried that on me as a teenager, my hand would have been down his shorts before he knew it. But that's just the kind of kid I was. :-)) (well, also it helped being the early 70s) But I don't know, he sure is pretty. Maybe I'd just have fainted into his arms and made him take me home.
posted by Goofyy at 3:46 AM on January 9, 2013


This Andrew Hales is the same guy who made the somewhat popular, extremely uncomfortable, and infinitely creepier "Guess Who" videos, where he would sneak up behind people that don't know him, cover their eyes, and try to make them guess who he was.

Okay, yeah, this guy should be taken out back and beaten with sticks.
posted by elizardbits at 11:21 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some of the sticks can have insalubrious substances smeared on them and he can play at guessing what they are! How whimsical it shall be.
posted by elizardbits at 11:22 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"He's making an effort to not be offensive, from my view."

Yeah, because he's just required to go and do this kind of asshole stuff, the least he could do is make an effort to make it inoffensive.

"Making an effort" would be just skipping out on the whole thing.
posted by broadway bill at 11:23 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


GOOD LORD! Coming up behind strangers and putting your hands over their eyes? Do that to a married woman in front of her husband. Find out if she breaks your ribs with an elbow before he comes and beats the fucking teeth out of your head.

Someone is going to pound this asshole into the pavement one day, and I hope the whole thing gets videoed so they can show the jury just how fucking for out of line this guy is.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:38 AM on January 9, 2013


Pfardentrott: "This Andrew Hales is the same guy who made the somewhat popular, extremely uncomfortable, and infinitely creepier "Guess Who " videos, where he would sneak up behind people that don't know him, cover their eyes, and try to make them guess who he was."

Holy sh... that's a thing?

Well, now the creep factor's way up at 11.
posted by Apropos of Something at 1:19 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


No. This is a fairly basic lesson that most people learn by early childhood.

Yeah, I had to work on this with my son with regard to his little sister (who isn't nearly as into being hugged as he is into hugging). What really helped was that the various adults in positions of authority (us, his doctor, the wonderful lady who watched him once a week, etc.) were also telling him that nobody got to touch him if he didn't want them to.

I see this quite different. I see the protagonist taking lessons on reading people.


Nobody is under any obligation to be part of this guys lessons. I mean, I guess it's nice for him that he's learning a new skill, but each person in the video is as important to themselves as he is to himself. Even if he is truly trying to learn how to not make people uncomfortable, he's doing it by not acknowledging the first rule: treat them like people.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:12 PM on January 9, 2013


Only one time someone tried this on me. So quickly that before I knew what was happening I had my face shoved into some goofy idiots shoulder. I held him tight and screamed, as loud as I could and right into his ear 'I do not like to be touched by strangers, it makes me feel threatened'.

I like to think that the adrenaline rush I gave that guy taught him that the warm fuzzy feelings one gets from a good hug are SHIT compared to the feeling of terror of being attacked by a stranger.

On the other hand, the experience left me so altered that I puked into a trashcan.

And don't get me started on people who ask me to smile.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 10:59 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


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