Home » TV » “It’s not ‘poverty porn’ – put your hobo-boner away.” HC Review: Struggle Street

“It’s not ‘poverty porn’ – put your hobo-boner away.” HC Review: Struggle Street

Show: Struggle Street
Starring: Mount Druitt’s least telegenic battlers
Channel: SBS
Genre: Three-part bservational documentary/reality TV series
Screens: Wednesday 8.30pm
The Daily Telegraph said: The controversial SBS promo for the documentary series Struggle Street painted Mt Druitt residents as drug-taking, dementia-suffering bogans who sit on the doorstep and fart.

"The weird thing is that we don't even own a dog"

“The weird thing is that we don’t even own a dog”

 

The other national broadcaster’s paean to Mount Druitt is ten times better than anything with paleo wankers, rival toilet reveals or Simon Fucking Cowell.

I like porn, and so do you, if you’re honest. But what the hell is “publicly funded poverty porn”, and if it actually exists, who on all of God’s sickly green internet would watch it?

Well, roughly 1.3 million Australians, according to the ratings for the contentious SBS documentary/heartstring harp Struggle Street, which is expected to increase tourism in Sydney’s Mt Druitt by negative the Nth degree.

What a ferocious flurry of froth-mouthing the promo for this show caused, with accusations of SBS attempting to actually make a profit by winning higher ratings and thus being able to charge more for its pleasantly infrequent advertising. This is not something the Sex Between Soccer broadcaster has ever been accused of before.

Nor is it really believable. I’ve read SBS being described, accurately, this week as a “partly commercial” business, meaning that, while it might look like it’s trying, it never makes any money.

As for the show itself, I was tempted to review it in the traditional Harsh Critic/Alan Jones style, without watching it at all, but curiosity and a desire to disagree with Alan Jones got the better of me.

What 1200 unreleased farts looks like.

What 1200 unreleased farts looks like.

What is hilarious about the negative reaction to Struggle Street is that it comes at a time when couch sloths can’t get enough of “reality” television, and will even watch other people watching shite on television on something called Gogglebox (there’s not enough curiosity in all the cats on Earth to make me watch that).

I have never seen a single minute of the modern adaptation of “reality” that’s worth a toss, I wish Survivor would die and I think cooking shows belong where they used to live, in the five-minute bracket Peter Russell Clarke used to get before The Goodies came on.

What used to pass for “reality”, however, was quality documentary making, of the type the ABC and BBC specialise in. Seeing real people’s real lives, and being effected by them, rather than the confected crap of Real Housewives in Hell or The Voice.

As such, I find it easy to defend the content of Struggle Street, which, while it does let its characters get away with bullshitting quite a bit, is as true and real as TV can be. You can’t make up characters who would work all day picking up scrap metal off the street for a $38 profit, and then blow it on… sandwiches and fried effluent from the local servo.

Sadly the way SBS has presented the content is as woeful as the A Current Affair-style promo the publicity folks cut together.

The voiceover appears to be done by the guy who used to shout “Saaaaaale of the Century” on Channel Nine, from a script written by the back bench of The Daily Telegraph. It’s no surprise the Sydney tabloid didn’t like the show; it probably wanted to sue for copyright.

Pete Smith. His name was Pete Smith.

Pete Smith. His name was Pete Smith.

And then there is the purely offensive practice of putting sub-titles on the screen for people who are speaking the King (Bob Hawke)’s Australian English. If you can’t understand them without help, you need to get out more. And further.

Apparently, though, SBS has a very high proportion of AB viewers, the ones high-dollar advertisers love, and supposedly a lot of these snooty types have been drawn to watch the struggles of the lower castes in far off wild western Sydney.

Who knows why they’re watching, perhaps it tweaks whatever social conscience they possess, but it’s not because it’s “poverty porn”.

They haven’t even shown any poor people going at it yet. Although they do all seem to have a lot of kids…

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