Wednesday, 30 June 2010

"What's going on?"

Last Friday I was watching TV, flicking between BBC1's Crop To Shop and Channel 4's Unreported World, and it depressed the hell out of me. Crop To Shop showed how our foods is grown and transported from all over the world, and the episode of Unreported World focused on the new middle class homeless of the USA.
As I watched Crop To Shop, time and time again the presenter Jimmy Doherty stated that those who grow our food in the developing world gain benefits due to their work farming our food. Yet these benefits seemed to be the bare minimum needed to live. Shots of mothers outside mud brick houses in the baking sun, washing their children in tin baths, using old food tins to scoop water on to their beloved offspring did not conjure up the feeling of an equal sharing of the wealth they were helping generate. Farmers here in the UK deserve a bigger cut of the money we pay for our food, but surely these people deserve it too? Fresh water should be something the developed world is giving these people because they need it, and because we are civilized. The rewards for helping feed us should be a growing chance to have a standard of living like ours in the west. They should be thriving, not just surviving.
Then I flicked over to Unreported World where Ramita Navai explored the truth behind the banking crisis as she exposed how the banks repossessing homes through out the US has led to a surge in homelessness among middle class Americans. I sat in stunned silence as I watched her walk around a tent city in Chicago, and realised that the poverty that had annoyed me in Africa is rampant in the biggest economy in the world. I have worked in Chicago and it has always had areas of poverty but this was ridiculous. In a country were you can buy $10,000 pairs of jeans, why are there people living in tents under a freeway junction? Yeah, yeah, free economy I hear you say. Well bollocks to that I say.
We now live in a world were 1% of the population owns 99% of the wealth. So the current argument about deficits and recession is rubbish, put about to ensure we take our eyes of the real question. Why should the rich be allowed to be so rich, while working people in rich economies are forced out of their homes by bankers, and at the same time we are having our public services cut and huge VAT hikes to we can pay back the money we lent to the same bankers after they gambled with our economies and lost? Why are people in the developing world being told that the privilege of being able to safely bathe their children is a fair payment for their toil, while share holders in our major supermarkets take home massive dividends? I know many people think Communism, or even Socialism are dirty words, especially many of the people shown living in tents in the USA, but I'm starting to think that anything is better than what have now. Even if an uprising of those of us at the bottom, who actually do something against those at the top, who live off our labour is out of the question, surely there must be a middle way? Why should the rich be allowed to be SO rich while so many of the rest of us argue over the scraps the rich throw us to keep quiet? Isn't it time for the people of the world to come together, stop arguing over little things like religion and find a way to create a fairer and more equal way to live in peace and prosperity. The craziest thing is all the major religions have this equality of main ideal at their core, but they have been twisted by those in power to keep us all at each others throats.

But I digress. Whatever our differences, we must start to see ourselves as the same, and move to bring an end to the way our world is moving at the minute. We must create a fairer, more equal world and share the wealth and success around. And if that makes me a Communist then right on Comrade!

As an addendum to my TV reviewing, just after watching the above shows I tuned into "Are You Having A Laugh?" on BBC2. A show about the way disability has been covered on our TV screens over the last 50 years. As I watched I realised that I had been written out of the history of disability and TV, even though I was on our screens from 1986 to 2006, appearing on every one of the four terrestrial channels we had back then! I was the first disabled person to present on a mainstream program, on ITV in 1986, and was the first disabled kids TV presenter in 1990. I even won an Emmy with Channel 4's kids TV show Beat That, and was BAFTA nominated. I was also the first real disabled person in a soap, when I appeared in Brookside, was one of the first wheelchair users to work in news with my reporting for BBC News 24 and BBC LDN. At one point if you asked someone in the street to name someone disabled off TV they nearly always answered "That punky bloke in wheelchair that looks like Billy Idol... what's his name?... Mik Scarlet". I used to receive bags of fan mail, with most coming from ladies who wanted to meet me for "adult fun" and even had a stalker, who wanted "scary adult fun". I don't want to blow my own trumpet or claim to be more important than I was, but I do feel I merit a mention. Just a one line throw away.
So am I hurt to not have my part in the changing way disability is shown on TV? Bloody right I am! Bastards! I'm going off for a cry.