The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was one of the few positive trends of a summer scarred by the spread of Ebola, the rise of ISIS and the never-ending disaster that is the NFL. A handful of critics have lampooned the Ice Bucket Challenge for its ubiquity, noting how many participants failed to mention its original philanthropic intentions. That is, of course, silly. The challenge raised money and awareness for ALS unlike any movement before it.
However, the challenge's origins — and arguably, its rapid popularity — unintentionally stems from a weird internet subculture: Pain for Fame videos.
Pain for Fame YouTube channels are the unholy love child of playground dares and America's Funniest Home Videos. In these shorts, a niche group of amateur YouTube personalities expose their bodies to harm in hopes of increasing viewership. They provide the pain, you provide the fame.
The Ice Bucket Challenge is a 1 or a 2 on the Pain for Fame scale, the softcore entry point into a more hardcore catalogue with entries ranging from people eating cactuses to shooting pepper spray into their own eyes. Personalities generally try for a comedic tone, often providing lighthearted commentary, smiling through their tears. But as you'd expect, lighting yourself on fire, biting into a cactus or swallowing a gallon of milk regularly ends in horrific ways.
I've posted a sampling of these videos, because I find it inspiring that after a few years, our primal fascination with the pain and humiliation of others led to a good cause. But let me be clear, these videos aren't endorsed. You want to know what to do after the Ice Bucket Challenge? Donate to another charity. There are many more that need your help.
And now, two men eating the world's hottest pepper.
Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Yellow Pepper Challenge
Junior Haha CACTUS EATING CHALLENGE!!!
Pepper Spray Challenge (don't try at home!!)
GUYS GET TASERED MULTIPLE TIMES
The Gallon Of Milk Challenge With A Hot Twist
Some YouTube users aren't satisfied with the banality of a single challenge video and have begun to combine challenges.
The NEW Gallon Milk Challenge (Warning: Don't Tase Me Bro)