91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Guy behind the street harassment video also made Grand Rapids viral videos

Update: 11/4/14

You probably know Rob Bliss, even if the name doesn’t ring a bell.

He’s the guy behind the Grand Rapids lip-dub video, the Pure Michigan sing-along ad, and now, the street harassment video that’s racked up 16 million views on YouTube.

In case you still haven’t seen it, the two minute video follows a young women in jeans and a t-shirt walking through New York. Bliss says they spent 10 hours filming with a hidden GoPro as the actress, Shoshana B. Roberts, endured more than 100 instances of street harassment, including stalking.


The video was funded by Hollaback, an organization dedicated to ending street harassment.

And it’s sparking a pretty good range of conversations, from“seriously, how do guys still not get it?” to “why were all the white dudes edited out?”

(It’s so big it now even has its own Funny or Die takeoff.)

A national conversation about street harassment, and race

Bliss makes these viral videos for a living. He's got his own marketing firm, Rob Bliss Creative.

And he recently spoke with theWashington Postabout making the street harassment video.

“As a guy who makes viral videos for a living, I was looking at this issue and I realized that no one had ever truly captured what street harassment looks like. No one had ever really given the world an ability to, just in broad daylight — without bias or judgment or messaging or anything like that — just be able to watch street harassment take place in the real world. And that was something that I felt needed to be out there. People needed to be able to see it happen in the real world, so that perhaps we can raise awareness about this issue and show people that, you know, there’s something wrong with this.”

But more than few people think the video is too focused on the black or Latino guys who catcall women, and leaves out all but one white guy doing the same thing.

Bliss told a reddit forum recently that most of the video is centered on the two guys who followed Roberts around, and it just happened that they were both men of color.

“That's why we put at the end that people of all backgrounds catcalled, because that's the truth, and we knew that just 90 seconds wasn't going to be able to be a perfect cross section of who cat calls.”

But he’s still getting criticism, including this article from Slate’s Hanna Rosin:

“Activism is never perfectly executed. We can just conclude that they caught a small slice of catcallers, and lots of other men do it, too. But if the point of this video is to teach men about the day-to-day reality of women, then this video doesn’t hit its target. The men who are sitting in their offices or in cafes watching this video will instead be able to comfortably assure themselves that they don’t have time to sit on hydrants in the middle of the day and can’t properly pronounce “mami.” They might do things to women that are worse than catcalling, but this is not their sin.”

On another note: the Washington Post is reporting that Shoshana B. Roberts, the actress in the video, is now getting rape threats online.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
Related Content