Poverty Porn

“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.

References:

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]

 

 

 

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Man in the Mirror

According to Charles Taylor a human identity is shaped by recognition, often by the misconception of others (Taylor, 1994). In todays 21st society online consumers use their presence to build any online status or persona they see fit, some may use online status as a reflection of their exact self and others may use it as an electronic veil of anonymity. Some may even find the reflection of themselves through online viewers leads them to not recognise the face staring back.

Status can be considered a fundamental part of life, and present in “virtually every human interaction” (Marwick, 2013). Online status can be measured through technical mechanisms that signal popularity such as the number of likes on Facebook, or followers on Twitter. Medical News Today reported from a 2012 study investigating and proposing that social media platforms such as Facebook may increase a person’s feeling of inadequacy (Paddock, 2012). This ideology is a depiction of human nature where it’s considered perfectly normal to be disheartened if a photo or post one uploads gets less likes or views than that of someone else. In this respect consumers can be unconsciously measuring themselves to others to find a sense of their online status and its worth. This links to the concept explored by Tiidenberg and Cruz, which states a number of consumers consider posting ‘selfies’ as self absorbed however “the relationship between subjectivity, practice, and social use of the images is more complex than this dismissal allows” (Tiidenberg and Cruz, 2015).

This leads to the opinion that convergent media practices such as social media have the power to affect its audiences in both positive and negative ways. Comparing ones self to another could lead to feeling copious amounts of jealousy and also risk the comparison of ones own online persona to their real life and seeing a mirror of inadequacy. It’s easily debated that the jealousy doesn’t exist in all cases but it’s near impossible to avoid when being constantly bombarded with images of delicious food, amazing holidays, and dream bodies… we’re only human. The use of social media in relation to status has altered the way in which consumers view both their lives and others creating clear emotional consequences, however it is up to the individual to either look into the mirror or turn the other way.

References:

Marwick , A, 2013. Status Update . Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age, [Online]. p. 74-75. Available at:<https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/598872/mod_resource/content/1/leadersandfollowers2.pdf>[Accessed 11 March 2016].
Taylor, C, 1994. Multiculturalism. The Politics of Recognition , [Online]. Available at:<http://elplandehiram.org/documentos/JoustingNYC/Politics_of_Recognition.pdf> [Accessed 11 March 2016].

Tiidenberg, K. Gomez Cruz, E. 2015. Body Society. Selfies, Image, and the Re-making of the Body , [Online]. 1, 78-82. Available at:<https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/607709/mod_resource/content/1/SelfiesImageandtheBody.pdf >[Accessed 11 March 2016].