Just poverty, not porn

 

By definition, poverty porn is when any type of media, be it written, filmed or photographed, usually exploits extremely poor people for the purpose of entertainment. (Urban Dictionary) Poverty porn typically is associated with black, poverty-stricken Africans as their conditions help generate the necessary sympathy needed to collect funds. (Matt 2009) As an example, I have included the video above to show what poverty porn looks like. Stills taken to promote the idea of poverty porn usually depicts people suffering from famine and most of them tend to be children. Many might ask, why most famine related ads always portray children in atrocious conditions. I might just have the answer for that. Based on several references, I have come to realise how poverty porn works extremely well by feeding off children’s vulnerability. Audience tend to be more sympathetic towards the pain of children and this elicits a higher emotional response, hence generating an ample amount of profit for the foundation and others who are responsible for it. (Roenigk 2014)

7566074904_1d8454facb_o.jpg

Photo credits to Robert Sarmiento

So what if you photograph them during their famine states? What is important is the fact that poverty porn works and it generates the necessities needed to overcome their sufferings. While half of them agreed to the use of poverty porn, there are also those who can not stand the idea of media objectification on people’s emotions. Most of us think we have seen it all in poverty porn. However, we do not realise the mediums that display poverty to us have glamourized its actual situation and the people in it. For instance, take a look at movies such as Blind Side or even Slumdog Millionaire. (Matt 2009) Have you noticed how the children in Slumdog Millionaire look accurately healthy aside from the dirt that is rubbed on their faces? These actors who play the role of children born in the slum are simply lively and intelligent. African kids who suffer from real famine are usually portrayed nude, with a bulging belly, their rib cage showing as they stare helplessly into the camera. The camera can only portray their physical appearance due to starvation, but what about their inner state? Their mental health, their eyesight, the ability to move or even go pee- these are their sufferings and if mankind has any pleasure in exploiting them, then mankind is cruel.

I understand how some might say poverty porn is the quickest method to motivate people into supplying amounts of funds to help the famine situation. But man must remember, we as humans are born with conscience, morals and ethics- it sets us apart from animals. We have intelligence, the ability to make anything new from scratch, then why is it so hard for man to take a new route into tackling these situations? From my personal point of view, I would even recommend more social experiments such as the one below as it naturally seizes people to acknowledge poverty and lend a hand to those who are in need. I think the video had a great message, definitely an eye-opener, without exhibiting any children in atrocious states. These are the kind messages we want in this world.

There are two types of people in this world; givers and takers. The takers might eat better, but the givers have always slept better.

References

Urban Dictionary n.d., accessed on 14/4/2016,

<http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=poverty+porn&gt;

Roenigk, E 2014, 5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person, One, accessed 14/4/2016,

<http://www.one.org/us/2014/04/09/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-the-wrong-person/&gt;

Matt 2009, What is ‘poverty porn’ and why does it matter for development?, Aid Thoughts, accessed 14/4/2016,

<http://aidthoughts.org/?p=69&gt;

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