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@BBC News

The BBC posted a video intended, I believe, to further inform and educate viewers about global poverty by illustrating it with a very specific example from the Philippines. “Some of the poorest people in the Philippines capital, Manila are eating meat salvage from rubbish tips.”

But for all their objectivity and journalistic integrity, the BBC ate shit on this one, compromising their trusted professionalism with their own disclaimer:

My problem with this is not the coverage of something that is actually happening to real people in a real location. But when the suffering of others is offered up to those who have the luxury of scrolling through BBC snippet-videos — with the disclaimer that you may wish to skip it — the privilege of opting out is being catered to excessively. If watching this is too upsetting —

That you, on your presumably full stomach in your clean-enough house, may want to watch what an entire community is doing to subsist belies an unintended ignorance. But then again, isn’t all ignorance unintended? The tone of this video and its trepidatious presentation demonstrate more empathy for the viewer than for the subjects.

The opening caption asks an exacerbating question — Would you eat this? Which begs additional questions. Questions that goes unasked in this documentary-style video blurb — Do they have a choice? An ice vendor tells us it’s good. Do other customers like it? Are there negative health consequences? And most importantly, what is the point of this video?

The video goes on to show the great bottom-feeding scavengers — rats and flies — before interviewing those who gather it, cook it and eat it.

Pagpag, this step-by-step how-to video teaches us, is repurposed dumpster meat — cleaned, stewed, spiced and eaten over white rice. Pagpag collectors salvage discarded meat scraps from fast food chains and sell it to owners of small restaurants and food stands who sell it for 20 cents per plate.

Pagpag collector Renato Navarro Conde, a cockroach-looking insect, and maggots are profiled with similitude before Navarro Conde breaks the fourth wall to tell us that “somehow it’s ok” because it supplements his household income.

There is no depth and little context. We’re only told: “It’s what the poor can afford,” with no information about the economy, education or employment. We’re shown drone footage of garbage scavengers and a tourist’s view of what appears to be a slum. The brief video offers the first world, (for lack of a better term, for lack of any compassionate and politically correct term), a one-way mirror that protects us while we gasp at the horrible poverty poor people somewhere have to endure before we go back to our clean, healthy and safe lives.

But even a voyeuristic glimpse of poverty porn just might be too much for some of their viewers with delicate sensibilities. Therefore, it is advisable to view, supine, from your fainting couch. The real lives of impoverished billions just might give you a case of the vapors.

twitter @h_m_edwards unsplash @heathermedwards

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