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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Exploiting Poverty Porn

Poverty porn is not the kind of porn that most people think it is, or are expecting about it. Poverty porn is really about any type of media, whether that it be written, filmed or otherwise, to draw the perspective of its readers and audiences the plight of those who are currently experiencing the undeniable fact that poverty is an inescapable social condition. Charities and humanitarian foundations use this method of attaining the sympathy of the public, to whom they draw support to their causes, earning from the need to dwell on the social aspect of interceding to provide some sort of help to alleviate the living condition of the needy.

It all seems to be a logical reason to willingly give to a cause that helps in improving the quality of life within a community, or is it what they actually say it is? Most charitable institutions, whether it be religious, governmental or privately run, earn substantially large amounts of money from various proceedings that they run, but do they really give it all to the cause that they declare? Which leads to the question if it really helps those that are in dire need? If so, then why are there many people in society today that are still in the clutches of an indigent way of life that have hardly anything to eat despite the existence of these so called “charitable” institutions?





The truth is, life is slowly decaying despite the claims of governments around the world that are allegedly supporting poverty reform programs to improve the life of their citizens. But despite of this, poverty rates are continuing to bloat exponentially, contrary to what most people who think that institutions are gradually making efforts to stave down the ill effects of a spiraling world economy. Considering that developed nations in Northern America and Europe also have problems of their own with regard to their need to reduce the level of poverty in their respective societies, there are still many that live in these parts of the world that have no adequate jobs or means of securing a tangible livelihood to even support their daily needs.

If you think things are bad enough for these developed nations, you should take a glimpse on the horrific way of life in the third world countries such as Africa and South East Asia, particularly in India and the Philippines. Movies like ”Slum Dog Millionaire” are a very good example of what poverty porn is all about. The destitute way of life in these countries make the poor people in the developed countries look like middle class citizens. Compared to people living in western countries, south east Asians are literally living like pigs. The condition of the kind of squalor that these people are living on a daily basis is much worse than being thrown into prison in a western country.




Prison life in the western hemisphere is far better than living in these countries, as most poor people in these countries survive by scavenging the streets, turning over piles of garbage just to forage food to eat. Most of the time, poor people in these countries, particularly in the Philippines, would go to the dumpster of their local fast food restaurant and wait for the waiters to bring out the table scraps and leftovers. They would take these leftovers and bring it home to their families and partake it for their diner, yummy. In recent years however, it has become a business as well, as most of these fast food establishments are now being contracted by middlemen, buying these table scarps and leftover foods and selling them to the poorest of the poor, in which the will clean it up and re-cook it, then sell it off as food.

These kinds of “foods” are a subcategory of the famous “PhilippineStreet Food” and has been given the term “Pag-Pag” (to pat it off as to render it clean) which is a very fitting term considering that you have to clean off anything left of what its former owner has left on it (yuck!). This is often referred to with regard to leftover fried chicken and hamburgers, as the method requires it to be washed down with water and re-cooked in oil. “Pag-Pag” has become a thriving business to the poorest communities in the city of Manila and other provinces where there are many fast food establishments that throw away their table scarps. Despite the huge probability of being inflicted with any type of contagious diseases through contaminated leftover foods, people who eat these “refurbished” foods have no choice as it is the cheapest means of sustaining their hunger.




The poorest of the poor in the Philippines sustain their livelihood by scavenging for refuse such as empty pet bottles, scrap iron, old paper materials such as newspapers and almost anything that they could sell to their local junk dealers. Most of these people live in tenements or even much worse, squatter communities that have evolved to be the breeding ground of the most unimaginable part of society that perpetuates the most unimaginable crimes from petty theft, drug dealing or even worse, hired killers that are willing to kill for amounts as low as $200. Prostitution is very rampant, as there are even families that sell their babies for as low as $300 and even encourage their children as young as 10 years old to commit pornography!

Young children literally loiter in the streets and the main thoroughfares, begging for alms, even bringing along their baby siblings along to draw pity from commuters and passersby. Eventually these children grow up and end up as drug dealers and petty thieves that worsen the already deteriorating state of Philippine society. So, what does poverty porn have to do with this? Simply stated that poverty porn is a looking glass to what society really is around the world and it is a perspective much appreciated not by those who are currently experiencing it, but those that are observing it from a distance.

The world needs poverty porn in a way to make one feel the comfort of what they presently have compared to that of what's happening to the less fortunate around the world. One can consider it like a terrarium in which they can comfortably watch every ugly aspect of how poor people live, without getting their hands dirty and without guilt. Poverty porn gives people the reason to be thankful that its them and not you who is going through that kind of hellish life, and it's a kind of thought that makes you want to cuddle on your warm sofa, while holding that hot cup of chocolate with marshmallows as you watch the ugliness of the reality of life which is a stark contrast to what you are complaining about.

Poverty is both ugly and pungent, as one can clearly imagine being thrown in the middle of all that squalor. Am I being too insensitive? I don't think so. As a final remark, I would just like to quote a stanza sung by Simon Le Bon during the Band Aide song “Do They Know Its Christmas” as it goes like this..."Well tonight thank God its them, instead of you". It just clearly states how caring most people are when it comes to the issue of helping the poor. The truth is, you need to realize that somewhere in the world right now, someone is presently being battered by a strong typhoon, a hurricane, a drought, famine and death...well, tonight thank God its them instead of you. This really makes you feel good, doesn't it?


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