Poverty Porn // Blogger vs. Author

Posted on

Hunger Hurts. (July 2012)

 

This blog post is by an internet writer and a mum, who narrates a poverty filled upbringing of a child in the UK. This writing piece become quite popular for its engagement with readers as well as the harsh criticism from others that pointed out her wealthy or “well-off” parents, that meant she didn’t have to be in this position. No matter the response the writing style is raw. The truth and the detailed framework of the post allows people of that class to resonate, but also be a symbolic text or a voice. Touching on the channels of various communication methods being a coded language, by drawing out the empathetic genres of this kind of work, can create emotional response and therefore an increase in reader engagement. This however, can be counter argued with ideas of ‘Poverty Porn’ or perhaps the idea that others misfortunes can be used on a commercial or understandable basis.

Poverty porn shows grotesque crises, often through individual stories, that audiences can easily mend through a simple solution or donation. Poverty porn makes a complex human experience understandable, consumable and easily treatable.

(E, Roenigk 2014)

I’d like to dive into the idea that perhaps these stories told by first hand experience like that of Jack Monroe, can have pros and cons, much similar to the higher up or established publishing company who write about the poverty areas.  The fact that this was criticised by established publishing companies and individuals of power shows the gap in empathetic responses to a writing piece and singles out a self -gratification element that goes deeper than the writer. The deeper the connection with the writer the more empathetic I believe the response is, thus, when poor or underprivileged individuals are subject to a writing database such as a blog and they can publish it un-mediated, they subject themselves to a more raw and relatable audience in the lower class, but perhaps lose their audience in an established higher class as they are simply using empathy as a disguise to a problem or world issue they’re not going to do anything about. 

There is an argument that says, “well this particular blogger has now become quite successful with her story and shares bootleg meals or foods that can be made on a budget”, and while yes I understand this, I believe her story and her successes are triumphs in the face of adversity. I grew up with a single mother looking after my sister and I and this story really resonated with me, and when shown to her she had nothing but raw emotion in her face and it brought her to tears. I talked to her about what she thought and posed the question, “Do you think it’s wrong now that she’s a successful online content creator and uses this following?” and Mum responded with “No, I think it could be something us as single parents and low socio-economic status individuals can aspire to be like…it gives me hope and belief in myself that I’ve done the hard yards and there can be a happy ending…as cliche as it sounds, it could be the voice, or the motivation someone needs to give life a real chance”. I totally agree with this, the idea that you have to have money to make money is slowly becoming myth, and with access to these kinds of blogging services we are seeing a dominant display from once the voiceless, rise above and succeed with their emotion filled stories.

If we look at this from the same angle but from a different response, the poverty inspired triumphs that are written by established companies or composed with famous individuals could be used as a beacon of hope, I believe the contingencies lie with the people involved in the stories and how they’re treated within the successes. Celebrities that travel overseas into poverty filled countries are often exploited for using the individuals in the promotion or awareness campaign, and once over then not really dealt with. Perhaps sparking what we know in social media as ‘slacktivism’, where the page or trend is “shared” but never really acted upon past the displays of our laptops. However, theres two sides to every story and I believe the trends or statistics in a data collection method I’m not sure how would be undertaken, could look at the idea of inspiration or motivation. How much of this do the people these stories and these awareness campaigns are about help them to grow and prosper into a lifestyle or attitude change? Before we start slamming the writing style and professionalism, I believe we need to think about the individuals we are choosing to include in the works, which through the ability to comment and leave feedback on internet forums, I believe we can start to see a lot more of.

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J, Monroe 2012, “Hunger Hurts 2012”, Cooking On A Bootstrap & More, Blog Post, Viewed 21st March 2017, <https://cookingonabootstrap.com/2012/07/30/hunger-hurts/&gt;

E, Roenigk 2014, “5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person”, ONE, Blog Post, Viewed 21st March 2017, <https://www.one.org/us/2014/04/09/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-the-wrong-person/&gt;

 

 

 

 

 

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