exploiting the exploited

The topic of exploiting the poor, the hungry, the sick, minorities, etc. has been on my mind for some time. But this new TV show that I’ve seen ads for has really escalated my sentiments and my questions of society. There’s this show on ABC (i think) coming out soon that revolves around a ‘millionaire’ being ‘dropped off’ in a ‘poor’ area – I’m assuming famous cities that are known for their overwhelming poverty or have recently suffered natural disasters (think Bible belt & New Orleans) – and then eventually find it in their hearts to donate to a family or a group or something along those lines….
This TV show is killing me. I can’t get over how wrong it sounds. Sure, on the surface to somebody who hasn’t been schooled in social justice and Catholic social teaching (much of the population, I’m sure), it sounds great. “Oh my gosh, these sweet rich people are going to go to places with poor (probably minorities too) people and give them lots of money?? They’re so kindhearted and selfless!!” I might be too pessimistic, too soon. I haven’t even seen an episode yet, just a couple 30 second commercials advertising this charitable new show.
But I know what I know about social justice, about exploitation of vulnerable populations, and reality TV. So I feel like this is a disaster waiting to happen. How are the cities being vetted? Who are they filming? Do these people have enough power to decline? Do they have ownership over the editing? Will they be made to look ‘uneducated,’ or ‘dirty,’ or ‘pitiful’? Who are these ‘millionaires’? Why are they looking to donate money? Why do they have to go on TV to do it?
If people really feel as if they have money to spare and time to kill, why don’t you do some interactive research (without TV crews following you and make up crews making you look gorgeous among ‘the poor’) and just DONATE?
I can’t help but fear that the people that will be filmed receiving these ‘gracious’ gifts will be exploited. Will they then only be known for being poor? Will anything about their character, their history, their perseverance, their mistakes, their trials and tribulations be revealed without simply glorifying the ‘millionaire’?
Like I said earlier, this issue of exploitation has been on my mind for some time. Of course there are the current pressing issues that I think about – LGBT rights, sex trafficking, etc. But I also think about World Aids Day. Now, this was a while ago, but I still have to put in my .02 about it. Because it very much had to do with a more fortunate group of people, making a scene of those who are more vulnerable. Aids has been an issue for some time, and yes, lots of money is required to help fuel the science to cure it, to kill it, to make our world healthier and more safe. I think about the Twitter campaign sparked by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Usher, etc. used to bring recognition to the day and raise money. A bunch of celebrities vowed to “die” until enough funds were raised (i think the goal was 1,000,000). So these celebrities signed off of Twitter and did not use it. But…days went by and their goal was nowhere near being met. Until some Twitter happy rich guy just decided to donate the rest so that he could see Kim Kardashian’s twitpics again (ok i know i’m being pessimistic again). The point is, these celebrities really didn’t provide resources, provide information, educate their tenacious followers. They just…left the twitter world, crossed their fingers that people would donate to a certain website, and then came back as if…it was any other day. I guess in hindsight they were just being like the average American. But I was mad. Why didn’t they do some more PSAs? Why didn’t they involve statistics? WHy didn’t they go to camps and volunteer? Why didn’t they bring attention to those who are living with Aids and succeeding in life? To those fighting the fight from all angles? Survivors, doctors, researchers, etc? They just exploited the day itself and brought attention to THEMSELVES. Glorify the fortunate, while exploiting the vulnerable.
I could go on and on about this issue. It happens every day. Groups of students go on service trips and declare that they feel so changed by the population they SERVED. But what about just being with them? What about a show that simply displays people being with people? People just sharing information about aids? students who go and serve WITH others? not FOR. Why can’t we get past that strict societal barrier that says there has to be a “greater” and a “lesser”? Stop announcing the changes you’re doing in the world, the help you may be providing, the things you are seeing that humble you. Just do it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s