From Shameless to Little Britain, does drama negatively stereotype the poor?

Below is an article describing a study of ‘Little Britain’ that was carried out by the London School of Economics. Do you agree or disagree with this report.

A study by a London School of Economics academic said many of the show’s characters – from teenage mum Vicky Pollard to proud gay Daffyd – are stereotypes based on people’s dislike of others of a different class, sexuality, race or gender.

Researcher Deborah Finding branded the show as “the comedy equivalent of junk food”.

“It is clear that when ‘we’, the audience, are invited to laugh at ‘them’, the characters – we are laughing not only at the figures on screen but at entire groups of people whom they come to represent,” she said.

Little Britain does far more to promote racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism and classism than it does to satirise them – though it does do that from time to time.

“To claim that it is ironic is to miss the point that comedy constructed about the other – that which is different from us – involves the mocking of minority groups in a way that winds the clock back to the pre-alternative days of (controversial British comedian) Bernard Manning.”

In her study, Ms Finding analysed the show’s characters and found that their physical traits were used to project fears about homosexuals, the working class and minority groups.

She said that in laughing at Vicky Pollard – a fat, chain-smoking, single mother – audiences were expressing their fears and hatred of the working class.

Viewers saw Vicky, with her “stereotypical body”, as having the features of all working-class single mums, “feckless, stupid and promiscuous”, Ms Finding said.

“Even Daffyd, the self-proclaimed only gay in the village, is a character who connects the idea of being homosexual with being ridiculous and therefore relies on mainstream fears about gayness, despite the fact that Daffyd is the creation of comedian Matt Lucas – who is himself gay,” she said.

For more clips from our Poverty and The Media project please visit our Archive

To find out more information about our Poverty and The Media project please visit our Project Page



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As journalists join the dole line will reporting of poverty improve?

As the number of media professionals facing unexpected redundancy rises will the gap of experience between those who report on poverty and those who experience poverty decrease?
For more clips from our Poverty and The Media project please visit our Archive

To find out more information about our Poverty and The Media project please visit our Project Page



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Glenn Jenkins response to Secret Millionaire

Below is a short extract from one of Spectacle’s Poverty and the Media workshops on the Marsh Farm Estate. In this clip Glenn Jenkins, long-term community activist and part of Marsh Farm Out Reach, talks about the way television programs, such as Secret Millionaire, Big Brother and Jeremy Kyle,  treat poorer people.

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Media Poverty Representation

One of our key issues is representation of poverty in the media.

How are people in the poorest areas represented? Are they shown to be stupid? Uncultured? Lacking in future aspirations? Are white and ethnic minority people represented differently?

Is the stereotype of your typical person lying in poverty, clad in a hoodie, strutting down the street with a stuttered stagger in his step, blazing the latest Jay-Z record from their phone whilst their oversized gold pendants dangle loosely about their person? Or is this just what the media like to portray?

How far from the truth is this?

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