Poverty Porn or Of Course You’re Concerned

 

This is funny to you?

This is funny to you?

As I have relented and signed on to Facebook I realized something, porn is very acceptable and never blocked on work servers. The kind I am referring to is of the poverty porn variety.

There are various genres:

Traditional: where a homeless person wanders around shouting, picking their nose or just sleeping. Yes homeless people are hilarious and great social commentary.

Rural: poor white people shopping at WalMart with funny clothes or hanging out with mullets.

Urban: poor black people are filmed with their funny hair, funny clothes, arguing, dancing or eating.

Interracial: poor people of different races participate in a fight to the finish in regards to space or dominance, with the money shot being the police coming or one of the participants being thrown out the store or the bus or the subway.

Children: poor people’s children eat cheetos, smoke cigarettes, say foul language or/and have funny hairstyles.

Snuff: poor people die through some beating act.

Poor people are amazingly entertaining to people. My “friends” on Facebook regularly send me shocking, yet “entertaining” videos from youtube of poor people.

Of course it’s always put with a, “What a shame” disclaimer, but while it’s a shame no one has a problem putting it up. It’s supposed to be a critique on society, but is it? Is it a critique or is it some kind of sick voyeurism that this new age has brought upon us.

Social media seems to be a pusher of the single story of poverty.

I understand it’s all very amusing, but if you are progressive and you understand the power of media, how could anyone who thinks more than ten second think that this kind of pushing a button activism is helping?

Facebook is huge and it goes many places. There is a problem with the single story that this medium pushes.

I think these kinds of videos plastered all of over people’s Facebook pages pushes forth the image of poor people being nothing, of people of color being nothing and it cements and spreads classism and racism.

What is my point of this post? To please not let the immediacy of Facebook blind you to the message you are truly sending. The fewer than 100 words you are allowed for commentary isn’t enough space to counteract a video that’s worth tens of thousands of words.

Target a huge corporate company stopped selling an offensive costume because of this social medium, so maybe when you post funny videos of poor people or videos to make people “think,” think about what you’re really saying. What are you truly saying when another person sees and pushes share and remember your disclaimer doesn’t go with it, your values don’t go with it, and you don’t go with it.

Just the image of poor people are stupid, which sends the message poor deserve to be trampled upon, because they are stupid and dumb. Is that really the message we want to be pushing if we’re progressive?

Think about it this way, when you aren’t sure as to whether you are pushing poverty porn think about when you send an email or post a video are you yourself personally going to actually physically do something to help this situation? If not, maybe you shouldn’t spread it around, unless you get off on poor people suffering.

Browne Molyneux

16 thoughts on “Poverty Porn or Of Course You’re Concerned

  1. This is such a good point. Fortunately I haven’t been sent a lot of these videos, but the very thought of them makes me sad. There’s nothing funny about homelessness. I keep seeing people all over the city without shoes, and I think that at the barest minimum, no one should have to go without shoes.

    I mean, these are people, and their lives are unbelievably hard and have been for quite some time to get them to where they are. What’s to laugh about?

  2. They’re in denial of the fact that they’re going to be homeless too in about 10 years. That’s just how people are dealing with this looming catastrophe. They look at the guy who’s worse off than them, and celebrate not being in his shoes. Ignorance is bliss.

  3. I think most things seen on new media (internet, TV, movies) are considered as entertainment, regardless of the content. Its about the context of which it is being viewed, that is to say, in the comfort of your HOME or office chair looking at the pixelated reality glowing in front of you. We can watch, applaud, heckle, and comment as an audience, but when we leave our theater seats and keyboard, we leave any responsibility that we may have to the characters, real or fictional; as long as we stay audience members and refrain from being part of the ensemble on stage, things will be how they are. There are many things I am concerned about this new age in voyeurism, but poverty porn barely scathes the surface. I hear you, but the deafening cry of more severe problems makes your words almost inaudible.

  4. To me the little stuff is what creates the big stuff. No one sets off deciding to commit genocide on people, murder people, enslave people…it’s the little stuff. It’s the little stuff like immigrants being portrayed as aliens, it’s the little stuff like image after image of women being portrayed as holes to give men pleasure, it’s the little stuff like people stealing the name of your neighborhood, it’s the little stuff. Its the little voices that are the fringe that become the mainstream when they are not challenged.

    The portrayal of poor people in my opinion is a severe problem. It’s a severe problem that is widely and loudly broadcasted. It’s like a little bit, it’s like taxes. Everyone contributes a little bit and it becomes alot of money.

    It’s a big problem when in this age of the new media all I see of poor people of color from other countries is vile images, its a problem when people get desensitized to the plight of youth violence because they see it so much in these little clips.

    I personally want to draw the line on a smaller scale so it doesn’t become a bigger problem.

    People and gov’t don’t wake up one day and decide to deport people or kill people it comes from something. It doesn’t come from a vacuum. Economists understand this. Accountants understand this. The rich understand this which is why you don’t see them online and they don’t even give up a little bit of their money.

    The moderate left at times doesn’t seem to understand this concept. They want to save the environment, they want to stop hunger somewhere faraway, but they don’t want to stop the little crap that we all do, because we want people to be free.

    The big problem won’t go away until this little stuff stops, until the little people stop helping the rich dehumanize people.

    And its pretty easy to stop. This is something people can stop doing. How hard is it to not send this ugly stuff around?

    Browne

  5. Moderate left…? I don’t claim a political side or like premature labeling, but I understand what you are saying. The little stuff counts; we cannot support any type of prejudice, any type. One cannot be accepting of these images, but also one cannot take it upon themselves to go beyond the examination of the problem to extreme vigilance, on the bounds of self righteousness. No one is opposing or ignoring the problem here. The connotation in your words are reminiscent of a lecture or reprimand. We are with you. Our eyes and ears are open, and we make our voices and opinions heard beyond the domain of blogs and postings; we act beyond the realm of cyberspace. In attempting to take on large problematic themes of immigration reform, youth violence, prejudice, and slavery (?; guessing economic slavery and maybe sex trade or something else, I don’t know what that was about) I feel there are more pragmatic approaches. But maybe the first step in solving these problems is making/not making questionable posts on Facebook…?

  6. I wasn’t saying that you are the moderate left. I wasn’t sure what you were trying to say in your former comment.

    I wasn’t sure if you were saying I was talking about things that didn’t matter

    or if you were saying

    I was talking about things people think don’t matter, but do.

    I think sometimes politeness online comes off a bit vague, so I just took the perspective of the little stuff does matter and that you agreed with me, but obviously you did not.

    You view how I write as being self-rightous? You think saying, “Hey maybe think about not sending voyeuristic image of poor people around,” as some kind of extreme request? I don’t think that’s very hard. Just don’t post it or do, but know how it’s coming off. I’m giving people the courtesy to let them know they are being asses. Maybe that’s not happy talk. I don’t do that.

    Why is that self-righteous? Why is that extreme? Is it extreme to request people not use the n word, not use the b word not use the term “illegal?”

    Those videos to me are racial slurs in video form. They are classism in video form. Someone should take a stand. I’m sick of getting email of people with mullets and poor children drinking red liquid, it’s not funny to me. And it’s getting on my damn nerves.

    I don’t always write in the form of reprimand, but possibly I did. I think what I did is just be very clear with what I think. I know it’s weird in this age of not actually saying anything, but I like saying things and I like making my opinion very clear so there is no confusion.

    I don’t know any other way to say it, since I’m the first blogger I’ve seen addressing this topic of poverty porn via the social media possibly I did it wrong. Maybe someone else can write it better next time. Maybe someone nicer.

    You know if you want to be soft and gentle and open in your writing you do that. I’m totally cool with you doing that. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, but thanks for the advice.

    Browne

  7. wheres the poverty porn? most of those videos i see are stupid yuppies i haven’t seen any with “funny poor people”.

  8. It’s the constant upholding of certain myths that are so damaging. I guess in the case of “poor porn,” it is the myth of “the other half.” A lot of what we consume media and entertainment wise is designed to give us temporary escape…and I’m not totally against that. It’s just that when it comes in the form of humiliation and condescension it reaches a palpable level of vulgarity. And there is the insidious mask of “reality,” attached to it nowadays. When you are watching a “reality” tv show you are essentially watching aspiring actor/model types or “real” people that have been cast to fit a part. And when you are watching a “progessive,” “documentary,” that has been embraced by the mainstream–“Inconvenient Truth” comes to mind–you are still watching something that has been majorly tweaked to shape myth(the myth of the saviour, not global warming). And when you are watching a youtube video about a “real event” you are still watching a fragment that says nothing about a greater reality or actually knowing the person it exploits.

    It’s strange that the internet has all this information out there from all socio-economic classes and all geographies. But what becomes popular and “reaches you” is shaped by the rules of mass acceptance. And it’s still a really regimented world we live in. So it could behoove you to scrutinize intent of what you consume and share…and what reaches you by “chance.” Because it could live in your brain somewhere and shape your concept of beauty, self-worth, place in society. And I don’t know, maybe? There are a lot more people making important choices in society that practice passivism rather than activism.

  9. This is what I’m talking about:

    http://tiny.cc/CNfG0

    Maybe some of you have never seen this kind of thing or don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, maybe this will refresh your memory. This kind of stuff doesn’t do anything, but push the single story, enforce stereotypes and makes people unempathetic to people and their plights.

    Browne

  10. I have to be honest, it’s kind of disturbing that there actually is a discussion here on rather or not it’s ok to laugh at photos of people living in extreme poverty. I can only hope some people are just playing devil’s advocate, or perhaps just baiting. Because I’m telling you anyone apologizing for this crude trend, even in the slightest, is part of the problem.

  11. RobThomas,

    What I’ve learned in my life is this, that when people are trampled upon they learn to trample on other people. It continues the circle of classism, racism, sexism, homophobia and all of the other isms. This is why these videos are cruel, that’s why treating people like crap is cruel, that’s why all of the ways people are oppressed whether is to national origin, gender, race, class is so horrible, because it teaches people to be mean to other people. I think in America the best trick the one percent of the population has pulled on the masses is to get them to do their work for them.

    People I think owing to religion and the Bible think that oppression leads to a more open mind in regards to what is not ok, it doesn’t. Oppression leads to cruelty and the acceptance of it. And it’s not people fault. People treat others how they are treated. If people are treated like crap they think it is fine to treat other people like crap.

    When I ride the bus around the city mainly on the Eastside and in what was formerly known as South Central I am very critical of how the city obviously treats certain segments of the city differently. I tell the people on the bus this, I say, “You should complain.” Do you know what I get mostly, “Well, we’re just disgusting and it’s all our fault. The City shouldn’t have to clean or treat us decently we should do it ourselves.” How exactly do you clean a sidewalk not one that has just trash, but is embedded with dirt from years of neglect?

    When I first I heard that I was kind of shocked, even though I shouldn’t be, because most people learn how to act by modeling and if you’re learned that you don’t matter then you learn that other people don’t matter, but more troubling you learn that you don’t matter. If you have no empathy for yourself, you certainly aren’t going to have empathy for other people.

    We are a community. No one deserves to treated like crap and exploited. We all have to work together to be kinder to one another.

    Browne

  12. Right conchita, like the kid’s Mom shoulda forewarned him not to remark as to the garish, fat hooker because the harlot’s jus’ liable to mace him? Then you have to wonder whether the dysfunctional puta might not have wasted her spray had the camera not been turned on her. I got to go with Browne on this one. I dunno, there’s somethiing real unfunny about any youngster getting sprayed and causing such a commotion on public transportation.

  13. I agree with Browne – people just let things slide too much. You have to take time to alert the city to problems. “Complain.” We all pay some taxes, and we all merit getting city services.

    Recently, we had a problem on the street for a week or two. I was like, what’s up? Eventually, wrote an email to DWP to fix the problem and said that it seems like a safety problem. Now, it’s fixed.

    Did people just not notice that the streetlights were off for the entire block?

    Are they really blaming each other for things like that? Are they expecting the city to fix it without being told to fix it?

    My next project is to get the curbs fixed up, and get the weekly street sweeper do a better job. These people are unionized and make lots of money. They should do a better job. The outsourcing threat’s always there.

    PS – the trash truck driver does a pretty good job with the cans. They’re upright after he’s gone by. The only problem was, last week, they were in a rush and mixing regular garbage and recyclables. What’s up with that?

  14. “This is what I’m talking about:

    http://tiny.cc/CNfG0

    Hahaha, hilarious video. Here’s another one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hY8oLrJE5Qw

    We watch celebrities implode because of mental illness (Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan) or because of bad behavior (Tiger Woods, various Republican politicians caught doing bad shit). David Hasselhoff has been drunk on his kitchen floor in one leaked video. People want to see bad behavior regardless of who they are. The macing video is hilarious as is the Paris Hilton hit and run. The meltdowns of various celebrities is intriguing.

    Say it’s all bad, not just when it happens to poor people. Poor people can misbehave too. Just because the people in the macing video are insane doesn’t mean that I or anyone else thinks all poor people are. In fact, you don’t even know if they are poor or not!

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