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This Film Screening Asked White Men To Pay Double As "Justice Pricing" And Got Everyone Mad

Shiraz Higgins admitted it was all a publicity stunt.

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A Canadian filmmaker caused a shitstorm after advertising a film screening with "justice pricing" that asked white men to pay double.

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Shiraz Higgins is a 27-year-old filmmaker in Victoria, British Columbia. He recently completed a web series about stand-up comedy, but a screening set for later this month has gotten a lot of attention for a different reason.

In order to drum up controversy, tickets were advertised as $10 for general admittance, but "$20 for Cisgender White Males."

The ticket cost quickly overshadowed the series itself, with many people denouncing the two-tiered pricing as discrimination.

VibrantVictoria / Facebook / Via facebook.com

The organizer of the event, who identified himself as Sid Mohammed, wrote on the VibrantVictoria forum that the pricing "was never intended to be some kind of attack on white men."

"White men are the highest earning group in Canada, and as a result we are trying to meet them at their level in order to make the event more affordable for those other groups who don't have the same purchasing power," the organizer said.

He also claimed to have received "a number of death threats."

The pricing controversy led to a wave of news articles and many heated online comments threatening to file lawsuits and human rights complaints.

But that wasn't the end of it. Turns out, there was no such person as "Sid Mohammed." The whole thing was a hoax from the get-go.

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When BuzzFeed Canada reached out to the organizer, filmmaker Shiraz Higgins called back instead. After a while, he awkwardly explained that "it was discovered by people that Sid is not a real person. Sid is me."

"I really felt I needed a layer of defence between myself and the anger that was being thrown in my direction," he said.

Higgins originally said the "justice pricing" was a sincere attempt at addressing inequality. And he claims he really did get death threats over it, including explicitly racist ones telling "Sid Mohammed" to go leave the country.

"In some ways, it's almost as if people talk a lot about privilege and just condemn and judge it as opposed to actually, if you really believe in privilege, let's put it into real terms," he said. "Let's actually take this idea of white male privilege and enact it in terms of price discrimination."

Higgins, who described himself as "half white," said the event would go forward as planned.

According to the Victoria Times Colonist, Higgins has a history of pulling media pranks.

Times Colonist / Via timescolonist.com

The Times Colonist said Higgins once invited reporters to meet a fake Salvation Army youth pastor who endorsed gay marriage against the wishes of the organization. The newspaper says the pastor was actually an actor, and the news coverage of the stunt made it into one of Higgins' films.

Higgins still maintained the lie, even after the deception was revealed.

"This is real," he claimed. "I don't know what would make it not real."

It wasn't until several days later that Higgins finally admitted in a blog post that it had all been a hoax. The screening will go forward, but it's pay what you can at the door.

This article has been updated with more information.

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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