“Pregnant junkies giving up all drugs and only smoking a few bongs a day… amusing…right?”
“Poverty Porn” is the movement that refers to a westerner’s representation of global inequity through the presentation of “disadvantaged by the advantaged” (Threadgold, 2015). Comparing this ideology to the mainstream industry of sexual porn proves a major similarity. Sexual porn objectifies images of men and women for sexual gratification and poverty porn objectifies images of the poor for privileged gratification. The 2015 program Struggle Street is a prime example of poverty porn, and how characters can be exploited without the underlying purpose or intention to create awareness and assistance.
The biggest issue with programs such as Struggle Street is producers are turning what is supposed to be considered a documentary into what is best described as a reality TV program. The program is being made into a form of entertainment rather than an informative platform to give other members of society the knowledge of how the other half may live. It was reported that the series is guilty of exploiting the countries most vulnerable (Galvin, 2016). Struggle Street appears to blame the poor for their poverty (Threadgold, 2015), rather than show the extenuating circumstances of how the characters came to be in such positions, nor ways of how viewers may assist in changing their lives for the good. Another major issue with the program is it is only focusing on extreme cases of poverty within Australia and abusing certain members of society to make the entire area seem it is full of the same walks of people. The program neglects to present the other members of the underprivileged society who may be more common, working 24/7 to put food on the table or provide their children with the very best they can afford. The voice over for the program comes across as almost condescending, once again highlighting the reality TV similarities.
The presentation of Struggle Street poses the question of is it encouraging the upper-class to take action and assist those living in poverty, or encourage them to take amusement in viewing how the other half live? On the contrary, there are shows such as Housewives of Melbourne that could be viewed as an exploitation of the upper-class where lower-class take amusement. It can therefore be assumed that it is totally subjective to both classes and considered right or wrong in the eye of the beholder. The program would have been more successful if it was produced in such a way that generated more of an educational perspective and showed ways how viewers could help the characters on the program, encouraging proactive attitudes as a result.
Galvin, N. 2016. Struggle Street: life on the Dole is what real poverty porn looks like. [ONLINE] Available: <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/598891/mod_resource/content/1/Lifeonthedole%20is%20what%20real%20poverty%20porn%20looks%20like%20.pdf> [Accessed 26 March 16].
Struggle Street. (2015). Australia: KEO Films
Threadgold, S. 2015. The Conversation: Struggle Street is poverty pornwith an exra dose of class racism. [ONLINE] Available at: <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/598885/mod_resource/content/1/Struggle%20Street%20is%20poverty%20porn%20with%20an%20extra%20dose%20of%20class%20racism.pdf> [Accessed 26 March 16]