Poverty Porn

imgres-3.jpg

Poverty porn in the screen industry refers to any type of media that exploits the poor’s condition for the entertainment of audiences (Roenigk, 2014). It takes advantage of those who lack any type of agency and who do not have the opportunity to speak on their own behalf. This type of exploitation can be used for purposes such as sale growth or to increase charity donations. Poverty porn can come in differing mediums including newspapers, photographs, films, television shows and even charity campaigns.

In 2015, actor Jack Black took part in the Red Nose Day charity campaign. Their aim was to help raise money and awareness for the less fortunate and disadvantaged children in Uganda. There was a video released that shared Jack Black visiting the country and meeting a young boy by the name of Felix. It shows Black interviewing him whilst giving the audience an insight into the boy’s life- his background, where he sleeps and what he does for money and food. While it may sound like a campaign with good intentions in mind, the use of a celebrity to sponsor the charity actually takes away from the real meaning. For example, the camera angles used throughout the video is aimed towards Jack Black’s facial expressions. It focuses more so on Jack Black’s reaction and him as a person rather than focusing solely on the boy. As an audience we react by empathizing with Black as an individual and what ‘selfless’ act he is performing. A 2015 article by Emily Roenigk, suggests that poverty porn (including this video clip) leads to charity but not activism. It fails to produce a deeper understanding of the issue of poverty but not the necessary structural changes needed to effectively address it. An issue as big as this cannot simply be fixed by a donation and especially not through a campaign such as this one.

Shock advertising is another example of poverty porn as it exploits the less unfortunate without actually explaining their situation or helping them in the long-term. An article that was published in 2014 addresses the belief that emotive charity campaigns are not working anymore. Adverts focusing on ‘hopeless people in poverty’ aren’t effectively solving the issues that the charities are seeking to address (Aimee Meade, 2014).

“They don’t empower or create sustainable change,” says co-founder of Regarding Humanity, Linda Raftree.

imgres-4.jpg

Although they are still making money, what they are achieving is a short term goal. In the long run the major issues such as poverty and world-hunger will continue to be there. For decades these campaigns have been using the ‘shock advertising’ technique in order to grab the attention of the viewer. Researching further into the notion of shock advertising a series of articles are reporting on the fact that charities are overusing the marketing technique. We can see it is no longer something that works. It may at first guilt you into donating but gives you no proper information on poverty itself. We still believe that donating over the phone or through the internet is a way in dealing with this severe problem but in fact it’s not. The advertising industry needs to move away from this method.

Poverty porn can be seen throughout medias such as television, film, radio, adverts, magazines and charity campaigns. The Red Nose Day video with Jack Black is an example of the way in which charity campaigns have wrongly addressed issues of poverty. Using celebrity sponsors take away from the real meaning and instead we focus on the celebrity personality rather than the subject of the interview. Shock advertising is another method that is no longer engaging audiences. These two examples are not addressing the issues at hand but rather exploiting the poor for donations. These charities may be making money but through the decades we have seen it’s not the way in dealing with poverty. Poverty porn needs to stop and education needs to start. Teach us the facts and the real way to tackle this issue. A short term fix cannot handle a long term problem.

Reference:

J, Brown, 2015, ‘Jack Black Meets A Homeless Boy’, Shareably, viewed 15th March 2017
<http://shareably.net/jack-black-uganda-red-nose-day/>

Roenigk, E, 2015, ‘5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person’, Why DEV, viewed 18th March 2016
< http://www.whydev.org/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-wrong-person/>

Meade, A, 2014, ‘Emotive charity advertising- has the public had enough’, The guardian, viewed 18th March 2016
< https://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/2014/sep/29/poverty-porn-charity-adverts-emotional-fundraising>

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s