There’s a documentary on Channel 5 next week called Shoplifters and Proud. It’s described as a “documentary following the lives of some of Britain’s most brazen petty criminals: those who unashamedly help themselves to whatever they fancy from the shops tell their stories.”
This week, the same channel screened another documentary about people who take what’s not rightfully theirs, brazen folk who unashamedly help themselves: it was called On Benefits and Proud. Shoplifters… people who claim the benefits to which they are entitled… pretty interchangeable really.
The channel’s own description tells you pretty much everything you need to know:
Both Emma and Sophie came to London as teenagers and both have been on benefits since becoming mums. Sophie wants a well-paid position too. Despite having no qualifications, she is not prepared to take just any job. She wants the state to fund further education, but only when her daughter has left state-funded nursery…
State-funded nursery! State funding further education! State funding things for people! The State is funding things and this is wrong.
It reads like a Daily Express editorial – which isn’t surprising, I suppose, given who owns Channel 5. Some people – including this dreadful idiot – even suggested that Richard Desmond couldn’t pander to Little Englanders given his desire to promote good causes such as the Health Lottery; prejudice-tainted hate pieces would toxify the brand, they thought.
Wrong. Channel Express is happy to demonise people who are ‘on benefits’ in the same way as shoplifters. Look over there! Look at them! They’re the ones you should be hating! Look over there! Get them! Bully them. Hate them. Don’t hate us; hate them. Don’t blame us; blame them. Blame their choices and blame their lives.
People like professional troll Katie Hopkins make a career out of this kind of thing – hate the poor, hate the fat, hate people who don’t have jobs, hate everyone else. We’re encouraged to join in. Maybe if we take the bullies’ side, we won’t be so angry about ourselves and the ways in which we’re being manifestly screwed by the powerful.
There’s a whole raft of this type of programme nowadays, and this is just the latest example. It’s tabloid television, it’s crap and it’s happily shooting at easy targets while the real crooks, liars and cheats get away with it. Where are the programmes taking potshots at tax evaders? Where’s Tax Cheat And Proud? Where are the programmes talking about the huge amounts of people who don’t claim the benefits to which they’re entitled? Where’s Too Proud To Claim Benefits Even Though They’d Help?
No one wants to make them. Why bother? It’s easier to hate. It’s easier to press the same simple buttons in the same stupid sequence. Make you hate your next door neighbour, rather than the real bastards who are wrecking the country. And of course we fall for it, again and again.
Meanwhile, people are quietly having their benefits taken away. People are suffering. People are heading down the foodbank, tonight, in this country. Don’t look at them; look at the rogues; look at the outliers; look at the people we have decided aren’t good enough. They’re the ones who are really to blame for this, somehow.
Next week: Bad Journalist And Proud. We meet BRAZEN journalists who UNASHAMEDLY misrepresent people who are on benefits and fill an hour of television making you hate them.