I only caught part of the ‘debate’ that followed Benefits Street, Channel 4’s latest entry into television’s hall of poverty porn shame. I watched as Allison Pearson repeated the same old myths about benefit claimants and sat in despair as the bloke from Pimlico Plumbers proceeded to repeat Pearson’s myths but with the addition of the word “fuck”. Let’s get one thing straight: these are not debates in the accepted sense of the word; these programmes are designed to attract lots of advertising revenue. They contribute nothing to the ongoing discussion about the lack of jobs and the pathetic amount of money that unemployed people are forced to live on. In the right-wing universe, if you’re poor, it’s your fault. If you lose your job through redundancy, it’s your fault, because you didn’t find a job where you couldn’t be made redundant. If that last bit sounded absurd, that’s because it is, but it’s no less absurd than the constant repetition of myths and tropes by people who have never had to struggle to feed their family and pay bills on £71 a week.
This is a reblog from Mike Sivier’s excellent blog about the Benefits Street ‘debate’.
How many of you tuned into the last episode of Benefits Street on Channel 4, and stayed on for the debate that followed?
Quite a few, I reckon.
They were worth watching, but the feeling that was left with this viewer (and I’ve been reviewing television for 20 years or more) is that we are talking ourselves around in circles – led by politicians with a vested interest in perpetuating the discussion.
They don’t want a solution. They want us to keep going over the same ground – which they have laid out for us with very specific limits – and they want to concentrate our anger about this issue so that we blame, not the people responsible – the tax dodgers who put money into tax havens that could be invested in British industry, the private landlords and low-paying bosses who are subsidised by the benefit system and the…
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