What do you get when you put jailbirds, revolutionaries, masks, movement, and rock and roll together? An Elvis movie! But also, Dancing for Dollars, brought to you by the hacker collective Anonymous.
Inspired by an old video of activist Sue Crabtree (known in some Anonymous circles as "Mom") making a dancing fool of herself to raise awareness for incarcerated Anons, Dancing for Dollars encourages masked Anons to upload videos of themselves dancing, perhaps to Hear Us Now, the FreeAnon fundraising album. Instead of selling tickets, the event asks for donations from the viewers. The official end date is August 8, but it could be extended by popular demand.
It's an amusing blend of new-style hacktivism with old-school 4chan nuttiness, uniting old and new Anonymous traditions, as personified in this post in the Facebook group:
"If someone will pledge $500 dollars to FreeAnons, someone here with me says he will make Guy Fawkes boxer shorts from stencil design and do sexy strip dance for donations. Otherwise, he will dance but not strip."
And there's this guy:
Here’s how the Facebook page for the event sums it up:
We have chosen to create a fun event where some very dedicated Anons have volunteered to make total asses of themselves to solicit your donations and support and all that we ask is that you consider any size donation to FreeAnons so that we may continue to assist the ones that fight for all. Of course, if you're brave enough to make a fool of yourself for a great cause, please send us your videos of support.
The call to action video has had 1,666 views so far, the Facebook event has 190 attendees, and so far there are nine videos uploaded including an "actual spy" striptease. FreeAnon funds were at less than a thousand dollars prior to Dancing for Dollars; so far there's no official word on how much has been raised, although there was Facebook chatter about $200 or so raised to date.
Reached on Facebook, Sue Crabtree told us, "Dancing for Donations to FreeAnons started out as a joke more than anything. FreeAnons was in need of funds to continue to provide assistance to Anons and an one brave soul said he would dance for donations to FreeAnons. So he danced and really shook things up. It became so funny that we decided to create an event specifically to raise money for FreeAnons by dancing but it became so much more than that. It became a place where people were laughing and planning their dances and actually having a fun time together.
The funds are sent directly to the registered Florida C corporation FreeAnons, rather than going through the video uploaders or organizers. According to Crabtree, "These funds provide all sorts of assistance such as the need for small financial support following arrest when funds may be needed to get to and from legal appointments, court etc. It also provides funds for food to some immediately following arrest when they have lost their job and are in need of that assistance."
As we reported a few months ago, funds also helped Romanian hacker Lulzcart get to and from his court dates.
"FreeAnons has also sent commissary funds to Anons upon incarceration. Along with letters of support, commissary funds are vital to purchase stamps, make phone calls, buy small things such as daily hygiene necessities and items of food that can mean so much to someone whose life is now identified by a small jail cell."
While YouTube videos are typically off-limits for incarcerated Anons, Crabtree hopes that, in collaboration with their lawyers, FreeAnons may be able to make the videos available to incarcerated Anons, who can presumably use all the lulz they can get.
Ultimately the plan is to put all the videos together as a continuous stream of dancing Anons. "We are talking about using one song and adding in the countries where the dances originated so that people can see the solidarity in such events as these."
The Facebook event has become a light-hearted hangout, full of in-jokes and humorous dares, but Crabtree adds this sobering footnote: "While you enjoy the ridiculousness of our event, please remember the jailed and persecuted Anons who benefit from our behaviors."
Barrett Brown is one such Anon, facing a potential century behind bars and coming up on his 32nd birthday in custody in Texas, after almost a year awaiting trial.
Photo via campuspartyeurope/Flickr