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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Editorial

Funny, but does it work?

Ben Affleck’s earnest animated video about why he helps orphans in the Eastern Congo has been viewed a few thousand times since it was posted on YouTube last month. George Clooney’s video about the plight of South Sudan has been viewed more than 380,000 times since last year. Bono’s video highlighting hunger — which featuring celebrities saying the bleeped-out f-word “famine” — has been seen half a million times.

But Matt Damon tops them all: In just three weeks, his YouTube clip of a mock press conference announcing that he will not use the bathroom until the whole world has sanitation has been viewed more than 845,000 times. The clip was created to boost Damon’s charity, Water.org, which helps build water and sanitation systems in places like Haiti, Bangladesh, and Kenya. Instead of trying to arouse our guilt or sympathy, it uses humor. The clip features popular YouTube personalities, including Wheezy Waiter and ShayCarl, asking Damon questions about his toilet protest. It’s brilliantly engineered to go viral.

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