Tag Archives: San Francisco

America’s Poor Kids…BBC2

6 Mar

Often when you think of poor children you often think of the grinding poverty you see in the third world or of images from the great depression. Poverty so visual it is difficult to be anything but that, but in thinking that way may mean you could easily miss the extent to which poverty still exists in the first world.

America’s Poor kids on BBC2 attempted to strip back the veneer of first world prosperity and to reveal a different world, a world of need, deprivation and depression through the eyes of the children trapped in situation not of their making

There was Kaylie in Iowa bouncing from a house her family could not afford to a motel, and back again to  another house they could barely afford. Jonny stuck with his family in a Salvation Army shelter with ever constant threat of write-up’s  constantly hanging over them. Write-ups given for infractions for any one of the myriad of shelter’s rules, go across a certain number and you’re evicted. Then there is little Sera stuck in a shelter in Tenderloin San Francisco, Tenderloin it turns out is anything but tender.

The story’s were all told by kids who were all remarkably articulate. They came across as  coping as best as they can in a situation not of their making but in their interviews you could see some traces of resentment in what they perceive as their parents failure, certainly in the case of Kaylie and Sera. Both were in single parent household and touched upon their Moms not having made the right choices.

The real emotionally gripping aspect was when the children talked about the future, they still had dreams but the experience and the reality of the life they had lived had begun to encroach into those dreams.

They talked about breaking the cycle of poverty they find themselves in, of getting an education and getting jobs but they also talked about what happens to people who don’t escape poverty. It was in that you got the feeling they could see one possible and arguably an increasingly probable vision of their own future, a future slowly being shaped by their being  trapped in a vortex of dwindling choices on education, housing and healthcare that poverty in America brings.

 

BBC…I don’t enjoy paying my TV Licence but sometimes…

22 Nov
English: This image of a document is from &quo...

Jim Jones :  Credit  ”the Jonestown Institute” at San Diego State University. 

…BBC shows a gem and we would be much the poorer without it.

Two nights ago I stumbled upon a repeated edition of Storyville on BBC2. There are certain things the BBC does better than anyone else in the world, not just in Britain, not just Europe, not just in the West, not just in the Northern hemisphere, but the whole wide world, these are nature programmes and factual documentaries.

They do a lot of other good things but on these two they are beyond compare.

Storyville is a excellent example of  the world class factual documentary shown by the beeb. Storyville rarely gets any publicity, is often shoved into late night time slots, but the gradual way the documentaries in this series dissemble and present even the most complex subject matters is second to none.

On Tuesday we were taken back to the swinging sixties and psychedelic seventies. To a time when civil rights was just making a break through in the USA and we met a charismatic preacher Jim Jones.  In ”Jonestown: The World’s Biggest Mass Suicide”, we are taken through Jim Jones life from his early days as a preacher, through his rise a powerful local politician in San Franciso and finally to a commune in the South American country of Guyana.

It was here in Guyana that events unfolded which shocked the world. The documentary carefully charted the events that led to 909 people committing mass suicide far from home in a sweltering jungle. We meet the survivors and witnesses to events that led to this, talking poignantly of their experiences at the camp and the loss of those they knew.

The closing segment with short shots of the those contributing survivors as they contemplated their memories was particularly powerful. Very powerful.