Fiction is warping our minds

“As Curtis Kincade walked across the tiled hallway, he felt the earth fall out from under his feet. Waiting for him leaning against the doorway was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Knock out eyes and lips as lush as the Amazon Basin. There was no way he could be able to let her out of his sight. Murderer or not, he was hooked into her until the end”

Not quite the beginning I was expecting either.  Strange things can happen when you’re faced with a blank screen and a keyboard. its almost like work association without limit or end.  I had in mind to talk about the irredeemably horrid people I saw out of my window every day. It was really odd. I saw a group of teenage parents clustered with their doomed offspring . All with special offer cigs hanging out their mouths and the parents smoking weed. And it hit me, I really wanted to create a bit of class, a bit of escapism that can only exist in fiction. I needed a tonic – with ice to wash away the taste of the poorer section of our society, the vision of poverty that my eyes found offensive through my window. A vision that was simply getting on with its daily life in the only way it knew how. I wanted Fiction so I didn’t have to see what was in front of me.

I love a bit  fiction. Who doesn’t? And no more do I love it better, than with a pinch of reality thrown in. “Wolf Hall”- the booker Prize winning Novel, “Game of thrones”-escapist medieval fantasy, to kill a mocking bird” , “Trainspotting “even…..

Or even better ……..say for example, TV’s finest .  “Benefit street” or “Cant work /Wont work” or the best yet “My 36 kids on Benefits” There is no better fiction currently to be seen than on channels 4 and 5 most week nights. Most galling of all is that its fiction masquerading as fact. Without investigation without depth, without balance and with the most minimum of tv expense thrown at it. Its designed to boil your blood to the surface of the sun and chill your rage to an iceberg and bloody hell it works.  Who needs the Coliseum when we can leer at the bloody demise of those less fortunate, all in the comfort of our own homes. Celebrate as TV plumbs new socially destructive depths.

By clownifying the subjects of these so called documentaries , it forces attention from the causes of poverty. It is no surprise that these documentaries are filmed in areas that were seriously effected by the removal of industry. In the 80s Thatcherite Policies left cities to disintegrate, when state owned assets like coal, the Docks  and British Leyland (in the north and Midlands Respectively ) were sold off, the operations were substantially reduced and sent abroad, It left thousands of skilled workers with non transferable skills rotting in the dole queue. There was no retraining available and the foundation stones of generational benefit dependence were laid down

For many people the idea of going back into work after 6 months unemployed starts to become  alien and entitled acceptance to benefit easier to  swallow. Its easy to look for work leaving your heart at home and its even easier to say you want to work whilst sitting at home drinking tea reading the paper. Imagine what it is like through generations where your grandparents didn’t work. Some of the people I saw out of my window had been raised in unemployment , they knew nothing else. They were raised to know the state would look after them with a house, healthcare food and warmth. They had no need to look beyond. We should be raising aspiration. teaching that it is normal to work, not be unemployed. The Job centre are up against the wall on this one damned if they do and damned if they don’t. We need Generational benefit dependence castrated and one way to do that is to use the media  that currently admonishes benefit claimants, to show them a better future, but we don’t.

We see a depiction of benefit claimants at the sharp end of the phenomenon. The people who are more often than not, a product of poor education and /or  poor parenting and adjusted to the welfare state. We don’t show the millions of people who used benefits as a fall back through a period out of work.  89% of claimants don’t make it past the 6 month unemployed mark.

The fiction of “benefits street”, has warped our minds. It is fiction as it implies that they cast are a typical example of benefit claimants. The subjects are painted as feckless, lazy, drug addicted and dishonest. When seeing people who act like that, its only normal we despise them. But remember, its fiction -only 11% of JSA claimants fall into the long term claiming category and fewer still hold the traits we despise so much, but are displayed so freely on our screen.

Don’t drink the cola, don’t fall for the Tory sanctioned “ hard medicine” image of our society. The government love these programmes as it programmes us into believing that the welfare budget is the root of our economic crisis, it stops us looking at the “avoidance of tax” by the rich and powerful whose greed was the genuine cause  of our economic woes. Don’t buy the propaganda against the working class poor.  Don’t let the sensationalist producers churning out this drivel convince you it’s the benefit norm. Don’t let the fiction warp your minds because remember, when you scratch the surface, it was the political elite that got us here. But that story . . . . . is for another day.

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