Chris Delamo Survived a Week on the Streets of Miami, but All He Got Was This Kinda-Racist Documentary
Last month, 25-year-old college dropout Chris Delamo set off on a grand trek through our concrete jungle. The political provocateur planned to spend a week without shelter in order to film a documentary about homelessness in Miami. "It's going to be like Urban Survivor Man," he told Riptide. We gave him long odds on living to tell his tale.
Well, it appears as if Delamo survived this city's mean streets after all. He's put together a trailer about his seven-day sojourn among the homeless. There's only one problem: It looks a bit, um, racist.
Take a look for yourself.
Delamo's trailer begins with him walking through what looks like Little Havana. He wastes no time in calling it a hellhole.
"Stranded in some random ghetto place, trying to find your way downtown, walking for hours and hours and hours, it really makes you appreciate how vast the city really can be," he says.
But the video goes the full Victoria Jackson when Delamo makes his way downtown.
"Apparently downtown is a hub for drug dealers and hostile homeless people," Delamo says in a voiceover as footage of dark-skinned people flashes across the screen. "Now I always knew this, but I didn't think it was as concentrated and prevalent as it turned out to be. At one point, I walked through a whole crowd of drug dealers and homeless people without even knowing it.
"I literally walked right through them!" he then says into the camera while laughing. "It was such a big crowd I didn't think it could be homeless people and potential hoodlums and delinquents."
That's because they aren't all "hoodlums and delinquents," Chris. Are there drug dealers downtown? Probably a few. But not everyone hanging out in Government Center is slinging crack.
Yet Delamo just keeps on tearing through the racial clichés like Tom Wolfe without the writing talent.
"I'm getting a little bit anxious, to be honest with you," he says. "As dusk settles and the city begins to quiet down a little bit, it's kind of strange. A lot of the homeless people I'd seen earlier -- maybe they might be drug dealers too, I'm not entirely sure what they are -- they are starting to come out now. It's almost as if they are waiting for nightfall."
To his credit, Delamo does interview a black person whom he does not immediately label a drug dealer. But the documentary is more revealing of its director's prejudices than any deeper truths about homelessness in Miami.
(Also, we here at Riptide have our doubts about whether Delamo actually slept on the streets as he promised. There's an awkward cut between midnight and morning scenes, but maybe he's saving that for the feature-length version.)
At one point, Delamo himself hints at the vanity and self-absorption of his idea to slum on the streets of Miami for seven days.
"I started to wonder if my hopes of finding a sense of freedom while being homeless were just naive assumptions based on a lack of experience," he says.
Wonder no more, Chris. Your video is all the answer we need.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.