Benefits Street: Open Letter to Channel Four

The documentary Benefits Street features residents of a deprived Street in Birmingham. The programme sets out to demonise poor people who live in James Turner Street and has resulted in threats of violence to residents and has increased prejudice towards those who through no fault of their own need to claim benefits.

Many people including myself consider this documentary to be an unbalenced prejudicial and  negative portrayal of benefits claimants.

Benefits-Street--

Residents of James Turner Street where not told that the programme’s title would be Benefits Street.

If you are not familiar with this controversy please see related links at the end of this post.

Below is an open letter to Channel Four regarding their documentary Benefits Street.

I write concerning your documentary “Benefits Street.” I am appalled that for the sake of sensationalism, high ratings and of course money you have exploited vulnerable people and have aided the government’s campaign to label all benefit claimants as scroungers, rogues and fraudsters. In real terms for profit and all the reasons above you have aided and abetted the Coalition’s Nazi style propaganda which has singled out benefit claimants including disabled people as a drain on the economy. While most of your participants so far may not fall into the category of disabled with the exception of Fungi perhaps who has a drug problem, the intention is the same and that is to turn the public against those who are unfortunate enough not to be able to get a job.

The programme has excited hatred and prejudice which is clearly demonstrated by vicious hateful Twitter comments. I quite believe that this was the intention of this program. You know full well that the people featured in this street are the kind of people that most of the misinformed public associate with the concept of “benefit scroungers”, therefore reducing any sympathy that the public may have. The people in this street are not representative of people everywhere on benefits. They have their problems, no doubt as a result of years of neglect by society as they struggle on a pittance on the edge of destitution made even more so since the vicious welfare cuts by this government. You have exploited their misery and hopelessness and added further detriment to their difficult lives.

The quick shot of a few satellite dishes was no doubt deliberately intended to promote the idea that people on benefits can afford this luxury. These dishes could have been anywhere in the street as there are people who live there also who do have jobs.

Were the people featured in this program paid for their appearances? They claim to have been led into thinking that the programme featured their community spirit, which I might add is a good and caring one. A refreshing change in a divided country where everyone adopts an every-man for himself attitude where few give a damn about their neighbour or the struggle many people have to cope with the increasing poverty inflicted upon them by this government of the rich for the rich.

I am appalled that you can so easily collaborate with the vile evil of the governments’ malicious propaganda maligning benefit claimants and the calculated destruction of our welfare system. You are lucky you have good jobs you enjoy and gain satisfaction from even though to my mind the context of this particular documentary is perverse and unjust, you are no doubt quite self-satisfied. One day you too may not have a job or you may be too ill or disabled to work, what will you say then when there is no welfare state to support you? I cannot understand people like yourselves who would rather sow the seeds of hatred rather than good, who would divide people against those who are struggling with poverty rather than unite people to seek justice and bring an end to the vicious welfare reforms that have set the clock back decades to a time and a way of life that decent caring people never thought we would see again in the UK. Such distorted programmes propagate discrimination and injustice and incite hatred and violence. Personally to give my life meaning I would prefer to gain notoriety from the good I did for the improvement of society towards a just and fair world for everyone.

The people of James Turner street need help, not exploitation. People do not choose to live on benefits, it is not a life-style choice, who would want to spend their lives struggling on £71 per week. A pittance which can now so easily be taken away under the guise of sanctions set in place to deprive people of this miniscule income for such petty things as arriving a minute late for an appointment at the job centre. Shame on you exploiting a shocking situation of social injustice. Injustice that I never thought would happen here in the UK and about which so few would protest.

Instead of focusing on a couple of petty thieves why not focus on the real criminals in our society, the greedy bankers and corporations and the corrupt governments that support them? No; because they support you? The greed of the few is destroying the lives of millions of people world-wide increasing hunger, poverty and deprivation on a scale unimaginable. The world has to change for the sake of every man, woman and child, for every creature and indeed the Earth itself. If not, the legacy of future generations will be enslavement to multinational corporations, the devastation of our planet and the extinction of the other creatures with whom we share this world. By dividing people against those less fortunate we are taking a step backwards, and will be remembered in history along with all the other evil perpetrators of social  injustice.

Action You Can Take

Please sign a Petition to tell Channel Four to:

Stop broadcasting Benefits Street and make a donation to a relevant charity for the harm caused.
https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/channel-4-channel4-stop-broadcasting-benefits-street-and-make-a-donation-to-a-relevant-charity-for-the-harm-caused?utm_source=action_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=45133&alert_id=QxzIKJIoPc_WEHNaELaAl

Join a protest

Join the protest outside Love Productions, the company behind this programme this Monday 13th Jan at 3pm, 43 Eagle St WC1R 4AT.  More info on facebook.  Please spread the word.  Love Productions are on twitter @LoveProdHouse

Source and more information :
Let’s Kick Poverty Porn Producers Off Our Streets
http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/lets-kick-poverty-porn-producers-off-our-streets/

Related Links

Benefits Street: A healthy media would stand up to the powerful and wealthy. Ours targets the poor and voiceless – Owen Jones:

How edgy Channel 4 must think it is, courageously reinforcing widespread prejudices, heroically hammering away at a message that is heard relentlessly already, bravely echoing the Government mantra about skivers. I hesitate to write about Benefits Street, their miserable programme which aired this week, knowing as I do that I’m partly satisfying its producers’ lust for attention.

Read More:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/benefits-street-a-healthy-media-would-stand-up-to-the-powerful-and-wealthy-ours-targets-the-poor-and-voiceless-9046773.html

This article includes examples of the abusive reaction on Twitter including threats of violence.

Threats of death and violence after Channel 4 programme Benefits Street

Channel 4 executives should be proud of themselves.

Their attempt to stereotype and demonise all of Britain’s 2.49 million unemployed by focussing on just 6 carefully chosen people and showing them in the worst possible light in their programme Benefits Street last night was so successful that Twitter exploded with threats of violence and even death against the participants:

Read More

http://tompride.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/threats-of-death-and-violence-after-channel-4-programme-benefits-street/

Benefits Street is a ‘misrepresentation’ of life on welfare, says MP

The controversial Channel 4 series Benefits Street has been attacked by a senior MP, who described it as a “misrepresentation” of life for people on social security.

“Part of the problem of projecting the extreme cases is that people then extrapolate that and say that applies to everybody who is on benefits. There wasn’t anybody who was a typical benefit claimant featured on the programme at all. There was a huge imbalance.”

Read More

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/jan/10/benefits-street-misrepresentation-welfare-mp-begg-channel-4

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