A well know complaint of televised philanthrope is that celebrities unashamebly use charity programmes like ‘Children In Need’ (and ‘Comic Relief’) to promote their public profile. However, this has on the whole been disavowed by the public who convince themselves that celebrities would never be so selfish as to use poverty as a publicity stunt…
To use Zizek’s quote of the Marx Brothers:
“he looks like a corrupt idiot and acts like a corrupt idiot – but dont let that fool you, he is a corrupt idiot”
There is however wider implications than Celebrity Profiling.
Charity on the whole is a good thing, we all know this, and the money raised does help alleviate individuals and specific groupsfrom dire social positions. What the show really does however is justify the very system that creates such poverty.
And the middle classes know this.
“When, confronted with the starving child, we are told: “For the price of a couple of cappuccinos, you can save her life!”, the true message is: “For the price of a couple of cappuccinos, you can continue in your ignorant and pleasurable life, not only not feeling any guilt but even feeling good for having participated in the struggle against suffering!” (Slavoj Zizek Living In The End Times)
Children In Need is not really for the children in relative poverty throughout the UK and absolute poverty internationally.
‘Children In Need’ becomes ‘The Middle Classes In Need’
An annual opportunity to relieve themselves of the guilt that they are part of the very system that creates the poverty throughout the rest of the year. The Middle Classes therefore donate directly to buy themselves another year in guilt free luxury knowing they have done their bit or they take part in fundraisers which become public shows of guilt purging.
One donation to Children In Need buys you one more year of guiltless purchasing of sweatshop items and ignoring the poor.
Want to really make poverty history? Change the system. Charity is just a sticking plaster to a much deeper structural issue.