The professor Lillie Chouliaraki presents the term “spectacle of pity” as to define the sensationalism of western news media when portraying the poverty-striken “others”. As she says, “pity is a form of politics that relies on the spectacle of vulnerability so as to put forward the moral claim to common humanity, in salvation or revolution, as a cause for our action”.
Therefore, what calls for action is not the cause – poverty, starvation, war…- but the symptoms of social injustice, the pity and the “feeling bad”. However, as Chouliaraki points out, while pity may be motivational in the short term it is not a meaningful basis for political action.
She exposes that this portrayal provoques the dehumanization of the poor into objects of pity, while the ones who can help become powerful. Therefore, they become “distant others” and there is no enough motivation and self-concern for breaking down political structures or ideologies.
Conversely, she suggests to be more aware of how we relate to distant others and to find ways to identify with “them”.
I began this post on campaigns to strive sexual harassment with Chouliaraki’s thought on representation of the “other” to present two alternatives to the “spectacle of pity”: two new campaigns that address sexual harassment that do NOT present women as the distant other and do NOT address pity as the motor to strive for change.
This video addresses gender-based street harassment and gives voice to women who had suffered sexist and/or sexual language and gestures against them. This campaign encourages women to protect themselves from sexual harassment by using an app that connects women who can support and help each other.
Through the humorous touch of humanizing the penis together with the tough echo of women stories, I consider this video as a powerful call for action.
Campaign website : https://www.handsaway.fr/
Cut and run Sean Stender
Campaign’s video: http://cutandrun.com/9219/the-voices-of-metoo/
The concept of “the distant other” remains obsolete in this campaign, since it is a video about women themselves lighting on their sexual abuse and harassment experiences. One of the aims of the director, Lara Everly, was “to make something beautiful out of all this ash”.
Another example of powerful campaign to strive for change, to motivate and fill up the spectators with enough energy to support each other in this game of powers.
8 of march, the international women’s day is coming and we are full of energy.
Chouliaraki, L., (2013) The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism. Cambridge and Malden, MA: Polity.
Ads of the world. (2018). http://www.adsoftheworld.com