Crazy busy this side, and I am not too certain with what. Work is at an all time low. The systems of my current project have gradually been so well-created & fine-tuned, they are running themselves. Damn! That was dumb!
And no one is yet throwing money at us for me to get further work. Well, there was yet another offer to head up some abstinence and “be faithful” training. I told my boss that I would react in the same way I had when faced with this at my last company…. I resigned.
I think my boss gets some strange enjoyment from threatening me with such project prospects. He certainly laughs enough when he suggests it to me.
So, to divert attention from my bamboozled self, here is one fascinating REUTERS article on a subject that I agree with and argue for – the depiction through images of aid agencies’ beneficiaries.
Many of us Development cheerleaders hate that the pictures sent over to the West are of emaciated children with flies buzzing about their heads. This is sometimes known as “Development Pornography”. It causes the developed world to only imagine our continent as one of starving, filthy, dying half-humans. The whole continent-wide.
We argue for the media to rather show images to inspire well-off people to feel compelled to assist people with helping themselves. That these people CAN help themselves. We ask the media and aid agency PR departments to illustrate that these people, had it not been for natural/ political/ economic screw ups beyond their control, could be living the life you live. They need the right opportunities and resources to pull themselves up. And you have the ability to create this access for them.
The way to get the visual message across that someone from foodless desert-covered North East Africa is the same as you, the richer Westerner, is to depict this person as close to your image as possible.
How that is done, is hardly easy. But then, photo-journalists have never seemed like people to not thrive on a challenge!
During the Ethiopian famines in the 1980s countless photos were sent northwards of starving people, to cause enough pity for people to send cash in their merc- and bmw-loads. What next happened though, was that the donators became desensitised to such images. While at the same time every NGO and its sub-partner started using the stereotypical photographs to ask for(demand) money. Not only did this create an African icon that is false on many levels, it also tired people out from assisting with aid (in whatever form this aid takes).
We currently are trying to reprogramme your minds towards how you immediately think of Africa, and what you think of the development world.
An interesting example given is that of the Live 8 concerts in 2005, which were to raise awareness about poverty. "(It) was supposed to be about justice, not charity. It was supposed to be highly political."
Instead, “the media recycled the same old stereotypes - even the same old photographs - which said little about justice”. These images re-inspired possible charity, they did not argue for the public to put politically pressure on G8 leaders.
This might have been why I disliked this campaign. It was not a sSEQUEL to (ie. a progression from) the 1985 Live Aid campaign, that was about raising money for charity. It was a plain rehashment. The audiences were made to believe that even with twenty years of donations and assistance Africa had not changed a single bit. It still was starving & on the edge of death the landmass round.
Which is false, development work has reached and uplifted many many people – bit by small tiny bit. But that does not make for sensational storytelling!
“We live in an economy of indifference, and aid agencies - as well as the media - are forced to choose whatever images have a chance of puncturing that indifference….The trouble is, there doesn't seem to be enough research about exactly what gets through to the general public”, says David Campbell, professor of cultural and political geography at Durham University
So, in an attempt to do some very ad hoc research,…what do you think would get through to you?