This Is Why Critics Are Slamming the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Naysayers are questioning if participants truly understand the rules of the fundraising campaign

By Jenna Mullins Aug 19, 2014 8:11 PMTags

You've seen all the Ice Bucket Challenge videos by now. Everyone from A-list celebs to your Uncle Arnold's best friend on Facebook has posted videos of them being doused by a giant bucket of ice water.  Or by just a water bottle, if they are a huge, huge wimp.

What's the point of all this? It's a fundraising campaign for ALS research (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease), and basically once you get "challenged," you either have to donate to the ALS Association within 24 hours or get ice water thrown on you. And then you have to challenge other people (usually three) to do the same, and so on and so forth.

So far, this campaign has raised over $15 million for ALS research, plus we've gotten to see the likes of David Beckham, Tom Hiddleston and Robert Downey Jr. in a wet T-shirt contest. (We're all winners in that contest). So why are there people criticizing and even mocking the Ice Bucket Challenge?

Well, for starters, some people don't understand the purpose of the campaign. The ice water bath is supposed to be a punishment for not donating, not a requirement. But some of the time people are just doing the ice bucket and not donating, and then challenging other people. Which is fine, sure, because at least it's raising awareness for ALS research. But the point of this whole thing is to make people donate money. That's why Charlie Sheen just poured money on himself to represent the amount he would donate to the cause.

Some people are doing both the donation and the crazy punishment. We call those people crazy heroes.

Critics of the social media campaign are also blasting the challenge because it's a waste of water, but those critics are singling out those in California, who are currently experiencing a drought. But there are those who think it's wasteful, regardless of your location.

And then there are those who call this sort of campaign "slacktivism," meaning that it allows people to show support of a charity or movement without doing much of anything.

"A lot of the participants are probably spending more money on bagged ice than on ALS research," wrote Slate's Will Oremus. "As for 'raising awareness,' few of the videos I've seen contain any substantive information about the disease, why the money is needed, or how it will be used. More than anything else, the ice bucket videos feel like an exercise in raising awareness of one's own zaniness, altruism, and/or attractiveness in a wet T-shirt."

And then there is the debate on the origin of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Apparently, the Ice Bucket Challenge started as just that: a challenge. It was a game that spread among pro athletes to either donate to their favorite charity or dump giant buckets of ice cold water all over themselves, followed by them issuing challenges to other pro athletes. And then it spread across social media and other celebs got involved. It had nothing to do with ALS research, and that is why some videos (like this one of Matt Lauer), has no mention of the disease or the foundation. It was still a fundraiser for charity, just not specific to ALS at the time.

It is reported that the ALS Association "piggy-backed" off of the original Ice Bucket Challenge and just tacked on the donation incentive. So the confusion of the origin of the campaign is leading to videos featuring people doing the Ice Bucket Challenge without talking about ALS, but that could be because they think they are taking part in a "daredevil" social media campaign, and not a charity fundraising campaign.

Critics are also wagging their tongues over whether just raising awareness is enough, and if a campaign like this one is getting the right amount of attention if people are just throwing up videos of themselves getting wet with zero mention of ALS. 

So if you get challenged by someone on Twitter or by your Uncle Arnold's best buddy (why are you friends with him on Facebook?!), then we suggest donating to ALS research and then calling out three more friends to donate or face the Ice Bucket Challenge. And if you are feeling saucy, you can also participate in the Ice Bucket pain if you'd like. Just make sure you mention why you are challenging people and direct everyone to the ALS Association website. Or pick your own favorite charity to donate toward. The point is: get wet, cold and very uncomfortable for a good cause.

Do you think the criticism of the Ice Bucket Challenge is warranted? Or should people slamming the campaign get ice water dumped on their own heads?

PHOTOS: Stars who've done the ice bucket challenge