Tuesday, July 30, 2013

'Lower socio-economic' - Australian Media's Preface of Failure

Ahh, the good old 'lower socio-economic' preface on a news story about Australia's poor.

Australian TV journalists in their cosy warm studios must often arrive from their 'higher socio-economic' areas and get cheesy grins when a 'lower socio-economic' story graces their desks.

You see, all of Australian society's ills - obesity, fat kids, sexual abuse, alcoholism, divorce, drug abuse, unemployment, crime, pensioners rotting away in their flats unnoticed, and all manner of other horsemen of the apocalypse, all evidently only exist in 'lower socio-economic' areas.

And don't we just love the term.

It sounds oh-so very scientific, and lends a cheap press release more credence and legitimacy (well, more legitimacy than the children from 'lower socio-economic areas, am I right?!).

Take the latest 'news' story that graced our morning TV screens - that fat kids come from 'lower socio-economic' areas - and the story was discussed by a female mouthy report who started her spiel on the topic with "I once visited a lower socio-economic area..."

Wow! You poor thing, how did you ever survive? I hope she has recovered from her ordeal.

But to the contrary, I've known plenty of big fat people from upper class areas.

Just look at Gina Rinehart - Australia's richest woman, a billionaire, and with her fingers in all the pies, and obviously not just business pies.

However on our morning show, the topic is discussed as if obesity is limited to poor people; to the contrary, some of the fattest people I've known, and I mean REALLY fat people, have come from very, very well-off families.

Why? Because obesity doesn't discriminate - this society is absolutely swimming in cheap fast foods, and as a matter of fact, we waste billions of dollars worth of fresh foods every year.

Australians love to stuff their fat pie holes, whether they be old, young, poor, or rich; 60% of Australians are obese, and it's increasingly rare to come across a naturally thin woman - but that's OKAY, because we don't want to make them feel bad about their body image.

It's the same with all the other topics - I've mentioned before that our news is written purely by upper middle class kids out of university for upper middle class readers and viewers - and so the explanation for everything plaguing society falls into the 'lower socio-economic' preface.

Oh the poor, it's all their fault; why won't they just die?

Hopefully I won't have to pass these lower lifeforms on the street.

You see, the moment someone points out that Australia does indeed have a deeply ingrained social class system, they are immediately told that Australia is a 'classless' society, and that it's all one homogenous block of happy people.

Nothing could be more distant from the truth, and the media needs to stop ignoring it; I would go so far as to say that our class system borders on being that like the United Kingdom's.

But unlike the UK, our class system is far more simplistic: the very poor, and the very rich.

The ones who aren't so rich, but think they are rich, or have stars in their eyes about being wealthy, are what we call the 'aspirational middle class' - the people who are dangled a carrot in front of them, in the belief that they will be one day be kings and queens.

But they too are ridiculed, and they just simply do not realise it, or do not pay enough attention; there's many well-to-do inner city folk that just simply would not dare tread into Western Sydney, as they just see it as a wasteland of mortgages and babies.

I mean look at the big hoopla when Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott visited Penrith; an absolute media circus ensued, as if they were going to the lost ancient civilization of Machu Picchu.

Even a Labor MP poked fun at the people of Western Sydney.

And of course, the venerable members of our beleaguered media machine, such as the social commentator who once visited a 'lower socio-economic' area, are they themselves smack-bang in the middle of the aspirational middle classes.

Not only is that their audience they write for, but they too think that they themselves are above everyone else.

Filled with airs and graces, and pointing the finger at anyone who doesn't fit society's accepted narratives.

Heaven forbid it be a press release about the enormity of growing alcoholism and drug use among middle class professionals; they can do no wrong, and they certainly don't ever get fat, either.

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