When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, schools across America joined in the effort to raise relief funds. Delone Catholic High School in Pennsylvania aimed to donate $3,000. To raise the money, the students came up with an idea: The school would blast Hanson’s song “MMMBop” on the public address system. They would play the song on repeat until teachers and students handed over enough money.

The fundraiser, dubbed “Stop the Bop,” made the news at the time. If you believe the recollections of various people on the internet, this school was far from the only one to try this tactic. Many schools did their own Stop the Bops, with some of course subbing in alternate songs. Some fundraisers, like Delone’s, succeeded. With others, the former students recall deliberately withholding donations out of spite. 

Stop the Bop was a terrible idea. Yes, it raised some money for charity. But with school fundraisers, the goal is never really to raise money (the school rarely raises all that much). The goal is to teach children to be charitable, and to instill in them a sense of accomplishment when the fundraiser hits its target. If you torture children into donating, you fail at those goals, no matter how good an idea child torture is under normal circumstances.

Worst of all, Stop the Bop fooled children into thinking “MMMBop” is a bad song, which it of course is not. No one is born hating “MMMBop”; this is learned behavior. The students didn’t pay to shut off “MMMBop” because they started out hating it. They paid to shut it off because the school broadcast it over and over. Any song becomes annoying after enough forced repeats. 

Hanson heard about the stunt, and they found it funny. They matched the school’s modest donation, and they sent every kid in the school a copy of their latest album. Many pointed out that the students couldn’t have appreciated the gifts, since they hated “MMMBop” so much, but again: No one actually hated Hanson, they just hated forced repetition. Those 659 free albums, by the way, retailed for more than the school’s and Hanson’s Katrina donations combined.

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