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PP for AS media students
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What is poverty? "The most commonly used way to measure poverty is based on incomes. A person is considered poor if his or her income level falls below some minimum level necessary to meet basic needs. This minimum level is usually called the "poverty line". What is necessary to satisfy basic needs varies across time and societies. Therefore, poverty lines vary in time and place, and each country uses lines which are appropriate to its level of development, societal norms and values.“ The World Bank Organisation
Absolute poverty is defined as the lack of sufficient resources with which to keep body and soul together. Relative poverty defines income or resources in relation to the average. It is concerned with the absence of the material needs to participate fully in accepted daily life. The House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee
Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation. United Nations
Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being, and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. Poverty also encompasses low levels of health and education, poor access to clean water and sanitation, inadequate physical security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one’s life. World Bank
Task: Write your own short definition of what poverty means.
Representation of Poverty: • Many of us already have a clear picture or stereotype in our minds when the word poverty is mentioned. • With a partner brainstorm what kind of image you already have. You may like to consider: • What a poor person looks like • What they wear • Where they live • What their lives are like
Dominant Stereotypes of Poverty • Often the poor and homeless are represented as ‘other’ – people who are not like us/ far removed from us – they live in far away places or from backgrounds unlike ours. This makes us think poverty cannot happen to us an makes us feel safe from it.
This removal of poverty from our direct experience can make us feel distant from poverty, like it has nothing to do with us – it can make us feel it is not our problem. Or, it can make us feel that it is our job to help those who are living in absolute poverty – we feel superior to the poor and, maybe, guilty. Helping may be as much about making us feel good, as about making them more comfortable.
Most images of third world poverty are also negative: The Deserving Poor - the pitiable victim – often black, starving, suffering from disease and living in Africa – portrayed as helpless, possibly the victims of climate, corrupt governments or global economics… They need our help – our help is what will save them from death. This is negative because it emphasises that they are weak and inferior to us.
The Undeserving Poor – those whose poverty is deemed to be their own fault- the tramp/ the homeless alcoholic. It is negative because they are shown to have caused their circumstances themselves. This stereotype tends to make us feel justified in not helping them – we shift the blame onto them.
These stereotypes link to two theoretical approaches to poverty: Individualistic Theories – these see the cause of poverty lying with the individual – it’s their fault – encourages the attitude ‘you’ve only yourself to blame!’ Cultural Theories – these see the cause of poverty lying in forces outside the individual and over which they have no control. It’s the government/ the forces of nature…. Which stereotype links to which view of poverty? What attitude to poverty do you think each encourages?
CASE STUDY 1: Slumdog Millionaire How do these stills from the film represent poverty?
Task: Now we are going to analyse the opening sequence. • How does Boyle represent the poverty in Mumbai in this extract? • In what ways is his picture of poverty what you expect (stereotypical) and in what ways might it challenge your views (create an alternative representation)? • Why do you think Boyle chose to represent poverty in this way in the film?
Now consider what the narrative development suggests about poverty: • Consider what happens to Latika, Jamal and Salim and what this suggests about those born into poverty • All three children are born into poverty in the slums of Mumbai but, later in the film, the slums are being cleared and wealthy businessman, like the gangster chief Javid Khan, are building expensive mansions and we see plenty of high rise apartment blocks – what might this be suggesting about the solution to India's poverty? • What do you feel about the ideologies the narrative creates about poverty?
“In 2005, it was estimated that city held some 3,000 of these slums housing a total of 6.8 million people—roughly equivalent to the population of London.” (Green, Jen. Mumbai Global Cities)
Simon Beaufoy, who adapted the screenplay for 'Slumdog' from the novel 'Q&A' by VikasSwarup, made three research trips to India to interview street children. • He says he wanted to convey the slums' "sense of this huge amount of fun, laughter, chat, and sense of community".
Boyle used two genuine children from the slums to portray the young versions of Latika and Salim • He also used LoveleenTandeen as his Indian co-director to try and ensure he got things right • Yet both director and script writer are British, writing for a Western audience • How realistic do you think this picture is?
If you read this article from The Mirror it seems to corroborate the image Boyle creates in his film: http://www.mirror.co.uk/advice/travel/2009/06/06/mumbai-a-visit-to-the-location-of-slumdog-millionaire-115875-21418322/
Bride and Prejudice - Street Scene It is a far cry from the image of India usually portrayed in Bollywood films – why do you think many Indian-made films chose to ignore the existence of the slums and poverty completely?
Is it fair? The Times called Slumdog Millionaire ‘poverty porn’ – what do you think it meant? What do you think about the use of poverty in this film?
Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle has come to the rescue of child stars Azharuddin Ismail and Rubina Ali after they were left homeless following a slum clearing drive by Mumbai authorities. Boyle has bought a new home for Ismail, who played young Salim in the Oscar winning film, and is planning to do the same for Rubina.After the huge success of Slumdog Millionaire , the film bosses had established the Jai Ho Trust last year (08) to help fund their education. However, the kids' recent plight compelled Boyle and producer Christian Colson to fly to Mumbai this week to see how they could help the young stars.
During filming, Azza, the Mumbai boy who was cast as Jamal's brother Salim, had his house bulldozed by the city council a common occurrence in the slums where much of the shoot took place. The crew found him sleeping on a car roof. The three youngest child leads, who were all cast from the Mumbai slums, are now having their schooling funded by the film's producers. With the promise of a trust fund should they pass their exams at 16. Anil Kapoor, who plays Prem Kumar, the host of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' in 'Slumdog', donated his fee to Plan India, a child development NGO in Delhi, devoted to raising awareness about child abuse, trafficking, education and rehabilitating deprived children (The Independent)
Do you think a film can ever change a person’s view on an issue? • Do you think Slumdog manages to achieve this? • You may like to refer to Uses and Gratifications theory to help you answer this!
CASE STUDY TWO: Save The Children Videos We will now look at two videos embedded in Save the Children’s UK website. Aftin's Story Fill A Truck: the Long Journey to save Children And an ad for the East Africa Appeal on YouTube: Advert for Save The Children East Africa Appeal
How do both clips represent poverty? Is it what we expect – the stereotype – or is it something different? • Identify the techniques used to create this impression. • How are we positioned to view these people? How is the West represented in this video? • What ideas about poverty does this representation link to?
Why do you think Save the Children have adopted this representation? How might this tie in with their mission: Our Mission Save the Children's mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
CASE STUDY THREE: Self Help Africa Videos Look at the Self Help Africa website and try and establish what their mission is and watch the video below: Spend a Minute in Africa
‘Self Help Africa works with rural communities to help them improve their farms and their livelihoods. Our mission is to empower rural Africa to achieve economic independence - and on a continent where up to 75% of people rely on small-scale agriculture for their survival, we believe that it is only by tackling the challenges faced by rural farming communities that real and sustained economic progress can be made across sub-Saharan Africa.’
How is poverty represented in this charity video? • Is it what you expect or is it an alternative representation? • What elements create this image for us? • What ideologies about poverty does it support? • Why do you think it has chosen to represent poverty in this way? • Out of the two charity videos, which do you prefer and why? Is it a case or one or the other or do we need both representations?
Final Reflection: • All three case studies represent poverty for a Western audience. All three propose very different roles for the West. What are they? • Do you think an issue can ever be represented in a truly fair and objective way? • What sort of factors govern the way an issue is represented?