I had to write about this. I TRY my hardest to keep political posts out of my blog but evidently I have posted about Feminism and George Osbourne before so why not this? I know I am a bit behind but some reading had to be done!
I know I am not the only one who will have something to say about Channel 4’s “Benefits Street”
Based on this article which I think EVERYONE should read, I thought I would summarise my general opinion on what seems to be Channel 4’s attempt to look similar to some less than ethical newspapers that perhaps rhyme with “the faily fail”.
If you want to watch it look it up on 4OD. I’m not linking it here. It would seem this programme was set up with the idea that many politicians think there is a culture of people who use benefits as a means to a lavish lifestyle. Some politicians would go as far as to say that these people may not need the financial support and use this money as a means of funding a controversial or undeserved lifestyle full of massive TVs and fancy holidays. These are a few things that sprang to mind when I was reading about all of this:
- I find it funny or perhaps interesting is a better word, how this programme was aired the same day George Osbourne announced that there would be further cuts which will effect a lot of the poorer people in the UK. Funny, some how this stupid programme is supposed to justify that. I think this is evidence of the government’s links with the media and is in fact a means of attempting to divide and rule the UK population. Trying to play the rich or “well off” against poorer more vulnerable people.
- This programme assumes the viewer is a passive sponge. It insults their intelligence assuming they will accept these inaccuracies and exaggerations readily. I’m not saying University education = clever or better than anyone else but I didn’t properly think about sources that I read until at least A level or University. So you’re average viewer might not have the desire to delve deeper into the facts and figures and accept this all as truth.
- #benefitstreet #benefitsstreet has been trending on Twitter and has in fact resulted in death threats. The angry UK viewers stating that they’d like to go down benefits street with a baseball bat. Pleasant. This is something that has been summarised by another blogger so you can give that a read as well.
- I find it sad that, as result of this programme and others like it, taking to Twitter is about the only form of “social action” people are willing to take on this. If you count that as social action. Some would call this ‘slacktivism’
- Saying that, I do not always want to assume the worst in people as this programme does in some ways. I would suggest that there are more people who are too embarrassed to claim benefits that they are entitled to than there are people abusing the system.
- It is way too easy for people to buy into the portrayal of the people in benefits street as it has been made as accessible as possible via TV. People can passively watch and be fooled into thinking this is representative because “if it’s on the TV it must be true, right?” This is much easier than picking up a book or doing your own research if you did (read the first article linked) you would realise that it is the richer people of the UK who are costing us more money in tax avoidance/dodging whatever you’d like to call it than people on benefits are.
It’s interesting that in some instances I have witnessed those who buy into the idea that “everyone on benefits in a scrounger” don’t actually want to engage with any intelligent debate. When challenged with facts and figures they say “well agree to disagree” or worse continue on their rant despite the fact they have been proven wrong.
Another hotly debated topic linked with the welfare state, is that of immigration. An appropriate, thought provoking and intelligent programme about this can be found on iPlayer. Much of this programme was filmed in Southampton and includes shots of the University. I don’t think the BBC is perfect I just think this programme is good and does a better job of addressing a controversial and emotive issue.
EDIT Jan 2015: This link may no longer be live now but you could google it. In addition I have been reading about how there will be a spin off of benefit street called ‘immigration street’ filmed in Southampton as well – not impressed.
Anyway. Rant over. As I say I don’t always like to post about political matters on here however I think it is important for people, especially students who will go into the world of work one day soon, to have some kind of context of the environment they could be entering and the complex nature of political agendas linked with work. Everyone should be informed and educated.