(COMMON DREAMS) Adam Johnson, December 21, 2015 — The poor need food, housing, jobs and—not least of all—dignity. Billion-dollar companies playing their plight off the prejudices of the viral video–sharing masses isn’t just in bad taste, it’s a perfect microcosm of how the media covers poverty. Typically, the right-wing press addresses it in cruel fear-mongering or poor-shaming, while the nominally liberal media all too often reduces it to this type of “inspirational” claptrap. But the poor aren’t our props; they’re not the raw material of viral content who, if edited properly, will subvert our “prejudices” and play the role of noble savage. They’re individuals. Human beings. Complex and nuanced.
Indeed, had some of these children told the producers to fuck off, they were keeping the gifts they were promised—as I suspect some edited-out clips showed—all the better. Poverty isn’t a marketing gimmick, it’s a scourge, a cancer and a national shame. The media should be covering this decidedly uninspiring reality, not its exploitation by cynical marketing firms.