Sunday, August 26, 2007


A scene in Times Square one Sunday afternoon. FREE HUGS, his sign says. But more often than not, tourists kept walking, or stared and frowned, searching for the catch. I didn't hug him. I just took his photo. The Free Hugs Campaign is an Internet-spread movement that appears to have started in June 2004, and was widely publicized in 2006 by a music video on YouTube (see below). The campaign involves individuals who offer hugs to strangers in public settings with the intention of making others feel better. The original organizer has stated in interviews that the purpose is not to get names, phone numbers, or dates. The video on YouTube was released on September 22, 2006, and by December 2006, had gained over 17 million views. According to the video summary, it was recorded in Sydney. In the video, the main character who is giving out hugs, "Juan Mann" walks through the Pitt Street Mall holding up a sign with the words FREE HUGS written on it. Music for the video is provided by Sick Puppies, an Australian band. Shimon Moore, the lead singer of the Sick Puppies who worked at the mall, shot the footage which he later compiled into a video for the song. Initial distrust of Juan's motives eventually gave way to a gradual increase of people willing to be hugged, with other huggers helping distribute them. In this age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact, a hug may sometimes make a difference.

No comments: