Benefits Street. What can I say about it? Personally I despise it. I refuse to watch a programme that discriminates against people because they are on benefits. It has become a lifestyle choice, but it does not give anyone the right to make it entertainment. It’s reality TV at its worst for me. It may show what it’s like to live on benefits, but at the same time it’s twisted. I won’t watch it because people are made fun of.
It really strikes me that we want to make poverty light-hearted. Some people have no option but to be on benefits. Benefits are there for a reason. Some people are unable to work for genuine reasons – they may be a carer or disabled. Some people choose not to work and that is their choice, however naive it sounds. Poverty is a serious matter that is affecting our children and will affect generations to come. Do we really want to make a mockery of this?
I find it disrespectful that we are making individuals famous because of their lack of money. Not everyone on benefits lacks money, but this characteristic can be associated with those on benefits. But not all benefits are bad and I don’t think that this programme highlights this. They are called benefits for a reason. They help people – although some misuse them. Carers allowance is a benefit for carers, child benefit is a benefit for those who have children…Disabled Students Allowance is a benefit for disabled students, like me.
You may ask if I am on benefits, I’m not, but I know people who are. There is a big stigma surrounding those on benefits. They are labelled ‘lazy’ and ‘feckless’, but some of those on benefits aren’t what society says they are. Some people on benefits need them to be able to live. We aren’t all equal and we don’t experience life in the same way, some people are disadvantaged and some people are known as the elites. Those on benefits can be seen as the ‘underclass’.
What would you say to me if I had to claim Disabled Students Allowance? Am I ‘lazy’ or ‘feckless?’. Do I need it because I lack money. Benefits are there to help people, mostly in the short-term. But some need benefits for a little longer and to me that’s okay. Again I might be a little naive, but I understand. Being a social work student for a year has made me have an opinion on things like this programme. A year ago, I probably would have watched it, but I can’t watch it when people are shamed because of their lifestyle that they are dependent on for many reasons. We can’t blame people on benefits really…can we? Some will say yes, but I’m a person that will say no most of the time.
This programme is an advocate for the ‘yes’ side of the pile. Why humour disadvantage? I personally feel that this is what this programme does. It idealises those on benefits. People on benefits see this and may want to become famous because they are on benefits. This programme really pushes for capitalism. They make money out of people having none. And that is why I won’t watch capitalism destroying lives. Those on benefits are labelled as ‘scroungers’. They are ‘scrounging’ for money. We all want money, we just get it in different ways – we all get our money from the government, however we get it. It all comes from the same place.
If people want to watch it for education then that’s fine, but I certainly won’t watch it for entertainment, because that’s what it is. Are we becoming entertained by disadvantage? There are people worse of than us and we find that ‘fun’?. It’s a controversial thing to ask, but are we becoming sadistic in what we want to watch? We may be experiencing a similar reality, but that saying ‘there is someone always worse of than you’. Is this satire now taking over popular culture and clouding our minds? I think so. Do you?