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Trailer Trash: BBC Three’s Blood Sweat and Luxuries

By johnberesford on April 21st, 2010 3 comments

grinning faces.jpgBBC Three have long highlighted the plights of various things in their Blood, Sweat… series. The latest documentary series Blood, Sweat and Luxuries kicked off last night and shows six young Brits finding out about the realities of gem mining in Madagascar, leather and coffee production in Ethopia; e-cycling and gold mining in Ghana; and the electronics industry in the Phillipines. Here, we have an interactive trailer for the show, which is very clever.


The show continues next Tuesday at 9pm on BBC3.

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  • blankspace303

    I have only watched one episode of this program so perhaps this is too harsh a judgement, but I cannot believe that the BBC has made a program like this. If this is a program exposing the working conditions and low pay of people in Africa why does it have to focus on a group of know-nothing 20 somethings desperate for their 15 minutes? The point may obstensibly be to show young people realising how fortunate they are in there own lives in the west, but this is basically a way to present the viewers with westerners that they can easily relate to and who can pre-digest the hardship they encounter for us, shedding a few self-conscious tears and spilling a few meaningless platitudes along the way. The result is just shallow reality TV with Africa-as-victim (in this instance) as nothing more than a backdrop, with the actual lived experiences of individual Africans in the program having to be channeled through the eurocentric, uninformed, patronising nonsense that these young people talk.

    I don’t blame the participants themselves, it’s very easy to look foolish on television and I don’t belive they want to be intentionally offensive to anyone, but the producers of the program are far more interested in ratings and gimmicks than allowing people who do these jobs to speak for themselves. There is a real lack of humility and respect in the way that difficult jobs are turned into a game with rich young kids playing at being poor and having to do hard labour.

    When ‘locals’ are asked questions these questions are closed questions such as “Is it right that you work to send your children to school so that they can have a better life?”. These are statements dressed up as questions, with the purpose of robbing people of any individual identity and giving them a stock ‘third world victim’ identity. None of the British participants is seen to make any effort to address anyone in any language other than English, even when speaking to those (often women) who clearly are not comfortable speaking English themselves. Even just a greeting delivered in an African language to start with would be something, and demonstrate that it is not the women that are lacking here but the tourists.

    It is ridiculous to base a program that aims to be a hard-hitting investigation into difficult living and working conditions on a few well meaning but naive young people being sheparded around Africa wringing their hands and saying ‘isn’t it terrible!’, occasionaly ‘solving’ peoples problems with small gifts of money and equipment. The issues that cause poverty, inequality and harsh working conditions are, of course, incredibly complicated. People doing difficult jobs in Africa have enough problems already. How would we feel if we were that poor and we really wanted some money to go to University, but then when rich westerners turned up with a TV crew they just sat around ‘oo’ing and ‘ah’ing rather than helping out? And as you can’t possibly play Father Christmas with everyone and solve everyone’s problems it makes no sense to sit around sympathising in an empty way.

    If the BBC really wanted to make a program about hard and badly paid jobs in Africa they could start by interviewing the people who actually do these jobs, perhaps just by asking them leading questions, leaving the camera on them and letting them say what they want to say. This perhaps wouldn’t make very ‘exciting’ television, but it would be better than having the experience of Africans relayed in a way that reduces it down to the occasional (prompted) African soundbite and the studied mixture of horror and pity on the faces of the amateur performers in this ham-fisted dramatisation of gap year tourism.

  • John Amato

    if i ever meet him the spoilt brat with the hair that always gives up i am going to batter him senseless he his nothing but a snob that thinks he is better than everybody else and he only thinks of himselfand if he wants to argue he will find me in glasgow(east end)

  • imrduke

    I think you have missed the point blankspace, the eye-opening of these ‘gap-year tourists’, and ourselves is the point. Take any group of isolated self-worshipping and consuming twenty-somethings who know it all and show them what their lives are founded on and the humanity and shame comes shining through. They are us, starting off arrogant and selfish and then being shocked into the true meaning of cost.
    This series and it’s predecessor about food production should be required viewing in schools, the soap opera quality of the mostly abhorrent and ignorant personalities should make it accessible for the teens at first and the thought-provoking shocks of the hard facts would get through to the intelligent ones before they set off on their consumerist-society yomps through life.


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