Poverty Porn

The objectification and exploitation of a human beings suffering is something that the media is often portraying. The use of images and videos are often used to prove a point and achieve an emotional response out of viewers. The reason? Is it to showcase the deteriorating wellbeing of humans in developing countries? or is it used to generate profit? Maybe it’s both; or maybe as viewers we are so blind sided by caring for our own, we turn our head the other way, lacking emotion, and continue on with our sad life.

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So what really is poverty porn?
“Also known as development porn or even famine porn, is any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause.”

It’s the pleading face and emaciated images of human suffering; it’s the images that use personalising stories connected to unknown people, often children, who don’t even know their image is being used. It’s the helplessness that these people are going through, shown to the public eye just to reach a financial goal.

Below is a link that I advice you to watch. It’s of celebrity, Jack Black, videoing his time with a small child in Uganda. This video is a clear example of how foundations use ‘white privilege’ to evoke a sympathetic reaction out of viewers.

“You’re welcome, Jack” You’re welcome for leaving that child knowing you could have done more; You’re welcome, Jack, for crying even though you said you wouldn’t. This video was shown to us in a class. Nothing angered me more than to watch a ‘white privileged’ man saying he couldn’t do more to help.

Now watch the video below.

Showing the reality of the devastating affects on ones life to promote something positive, is more of an ethical conflict than a ‘fundraising’ opportunity. The second video portrays a humorous side of the truthful views of the videos and images we are often forced to see on a daily basis. We don’t know these people. We don’t know them; and they don’t know us.

Daniel Ramirez-Raftree, a sociology student at the University of Chicago, says: “Poverty porn is effective as a means for raising funds because it elicits strong emotional responses”.

Therefore people tend to feel pity, sympathy, and a sense of guilt; rather than feeling necessarily driven to help a cause.
But the reason poverty porn is so pervasive is that is promotes the popular stereotype that was often created in Western literature about Africa, for example: the way the natives in ‘The Tempest’ were portrayed as lacking humanity and decency.
And so for centuries we have been forced to think a certain way, and there is no doubt that these photographs and video’s do hold truth, but at what cost?

The end result is that these images are implicitly:

“acting to further the idea of underdevelopment and suggesting the idea of the superiority of Western society.” (Dolinar, 2013)

 

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