This blog post today is a little late, I could come up with many excuses for why this is but my current one is that I just have no idea what to write. The idea of poverty porn and witnessing sad traumatic events really pulls at my heart strings and I often don’t know if my opinions are morally or ethically correct. I just want to be able to help everyone and make the world a better place but often we do not know if our generosity is being used in the right places.
In last weeks tutorial we watched a clip from Comic Relief, a Celebrity telethon event currently happening in the UK to raise funds to free the world from poverty. The clip was from a Red Nose Day in 2015 where Jack Black visited a homeless boy in Uganda who cried for his lost family who had died and begged Jack to get him educated and take him home with him. Watch the video linked below and have a think about the emotional appeal that the video is portraying?
When we watch this video a question to seriously ask ourselves is who’s pain are we emphasising more? The victim, the narrator or the viewer? When discussing this topic in class we had a great focus on how Jack Black probably could have done more to help. Could he have taken that little boy out of the situation just even for one night to offer hope that things could get better.
The point of Comic Relief, as pointed out by Ed Sheeran in this next clip, is to offer the viewer a case of a child that pulls at your emotions and compels you to donate to save that particular child. But their stories are only 1 of 1 Billion (Global Issues). I quite feel a bit more emotionally drawn to the next clip from this years Comic Relief appeal. It was interesting to see a different side from the Jack Black appeal as in this instance we saw Ed talk off screen to the producers of the clip and negotiate a way that he could help the children in Liberia. He refuses to just do his job of making a public appeal and then leave but to actually stay and ensure the safety of a small boy and his friends who long for education. Check out the clip below.
After seeing these two clips I think it is important to ask ourselves if these are ethically and morally correct? Is it considered okay to exploit a small number of children in order for the greater good? There are both positives and negatives of these campaigns that I find terribly conflicting. In one sense it is so unfortunate that the only way to get people to donate is by using these types of exploitive emotional appeals, why can we not find it within our own will to help others? On the other hand the use of celebrities like in the One Direction Comic Relief appeal help open the fundraiser to a wider and younger audience who then generate discussion with their families and encourage more efforts of donation.
Something we had discussed in the lecture about ‘The Other’ was the idea that showing suffering would push the viewer to stop it from happening again. The appeals of comic relief push us to feel sympathetic to the victim who is in hardship, while we feel empathetic to the celebrity an individual who lives a privileged life like ourselves who have had to witness such tragedies. These two emotions could be blurring but the intensity of the two should be the push that forces you to consider making a change.
So how can we make change? It is important to find not-for-profit organisations that donates to the causes that you believe in whether it be domestic violence victims, natural disaster recovery, or helping young children in need. Ever since I was in Kindergarten my schools have been heavily involved with Project Compassion by Caritas. A fundraiser that occurs over the Catholic season of Lent reminding us to remember those less fortunate then ourselves and offer the change that we can to help protect natural disaster survivors, women in shelters and homeless children. The topic this week has reminded me to take into consideration the blessing that I have been given and recognise how fortunate we are and to consciously make an effort to share my fortunes with those less fortunate then myself.
So I shall leave you here. To delve your way through the hundreds of Comic Relief genius (i.e. Love Actually, One Direction & James Corden Car Pool Kareoke) and make your own opinion about whether these types of appeals make you want to make a difference!