Poverty Porn

Poverty Porn by definition 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”, and it is something that we all at one point in our lives have witnessed or seen with our own eyes, whether we realize it or not. This used to be showcased with photos of frail looking individuals sitting by their bare-boned homes, today we see it in TV commercials and even more prevalent on social media. The day and age has changed, but the content of what poverty porn is has remained the same. The creation or commercialization of Poverty Porn has many different goals but the main outcome that is hoped to achieve is to generate sympathy for their own good. Much of the time people who organize poverty porn Ads or campaigns want to use these images to raise money and gain momentum for their campaign and their fight.

Poverty Porn has benefits for the people that are trying to exploit the usage of it, but all in all it’s very harmful. It’s harmful to the individuals that are in these photos and in these videos. Poverty Porn is an absolute invasion of privacy. In these photos we see people who are struggling, they are struggling most of the time in the place they call home. At home is where we should most feel safe and most feel that sense of privacy, these images do not allow for that or provide that. When I see these images on TV or on social media I sometimes think about what I would do if it were me in their position and I can’t help but feel I’d feel a sense of embarrassment. And that’s not their fault, those who are using these images to exploit feelings of sympathy for their own selfish use are at fault. Some may make the argument that the people running these ads and making these commercials genuinely want to help, and they make make the argument that they’re not trying to exploit these struggling people. But if they truly are, I’d say they’re going about it the complete wrong way. There are people all over the world that truly do need help, and they can be helped. I don’t think they need their faces plastered all over the internet and television networks to accomplish that. I don’t believe they want or need our sympathy, they need our help.

The Problems with Poverty Porn

I’m sure we’ve all seen commercials on TV or adds on social media that depict thin, emaciated kids, a row of small, run-down houses, or homeless people begging on the streets. This is known as poverty porn. Poverty porn is defined as “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 was introduced in the 1980s when charity campaigns became popular. Organizers of these campaigns found the most heart wrenching photos and videos to show to the audiences to generate sympathy and increase donations. While poverty porn has been successful in helping to raise more money for people who are in need, it also has its faults. Many people argue that poverty porn is inappropriate in many ways.

First of all, it can be seen as an invasion of privacy. No, American people who see poverty porn will probably never cross paths with the people in the photos, however that’s not the point. If any of us were in that position, we wouldn’t want our face to be broadcast all over the world. It is just simply not right to exploit people because of their circumstances to make money – even if that money is supposed to help them. There are other ways to make money. Second of all, poverty porn creates stereotypes. For example, there is a stereotype of the starving African. For some people, poverty porn is the only exposure to Africa that they have. When this is the case, it can lead someone to believe that everyone in Africa is starving and poverty stricken, and living with false stereotypes like that can cause problems. There are no doubt lots of people in this world that need help, however exploiting them and turning them into puppets that charities play with the create sympathy is probably not the best way to help them.