Poverty Porn

What is poverty porn? It is defined as development porn or even famine porn, is any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause. Poverty porn is typically associated with black, poverty-stricken Africans, but can be found elsewhere. The subjects are overwhelming children, with the material usually characterized by images or descriptions of suffering, malnourished or otherwise helpless persons. The stereotype of poverty porn is the African child with a swollen belly, staring blankly into the camera, waiting for salvation.

Poverty Porn in a nutshell.

Recently before this topic came up, a viral video “Jack Black Brought to tears after meeting a homeless boy” was uploaded on social medias and it gained my attention to watch the 5 minute long video. The video was about the celebrity, Jack Black visiting Uganda to tell donors where their money is donated to in charities. In the video he spent a day with a local boy, Felix, to see what he goes through on a daily basis. Felix tells Jack about his life story and slowly got emotional towards Felix.

Before learning about poverty porn, I too thought all these videos from charities and celebrities were as touching as possible and did really send a message to the audiences that they needed help. But these videos can be categorized as gimmicks to get sympathy from the audiences and to donate to their cause. 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)

Does all these videos help to end the homeless children’s suffering? In a famine situation like these, some might bring out that it is the fastest way to reach out to the audience but we must also include humanitarianism in all aspects in helping to solve poverty. To me, its fine to raise awareness of poverty through social media and get funds from around the world to help aid the problem but the responsible parties should also be responsible for their work and make a follow up on the help they received and the progression of the work.

Roenigk, E 2014, 5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person, One, accessed 11/4/2016 <http://www.one.org/us/2014/04/09/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-the-wrong-person/&gt

 

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