Let’s Stop Exploiting the Poor :: An Open Letter to UP Entertainment

Dear UP Entertainment Network,

Your latest marketing ploy aimed at showing us the spirit of giving seems to have worked on the masses, but the emotional manipulation tactics left me uneasy.

Your video, which shows you giving underprivileged children the option of selecting a gift for themselves or their families and praising them for choosing the gifts for their families, is supposed to show us what? That no matter how little they have, these kids would rather someone else be happy?

Beyond a big screen TV or a Pandora bracelet, will you do anything to help lift these families out of poverty? If you are not committed to long term solutions, then this video does nothing more than make these children into circus animals for your own production.

It does not make it better that these families consented to this project. If you offer someone who has nothing the opportunity to have something, of course they will take it, even if it means they are now the poster family for underprivileged America, and even if it does not help them in the long run.

I hope these people, who will reach more customers for you than the highest paid actor, are compensated well for the awareness and recognition they’ve just brought to your brand. Sadly, I am guessing you thought the trinkets were enough payment. After all, they are in poverty, shouldn’t they be grateful for anything??

People in poverty are more than just stories. Their struggles are more than what they have or don’t have under the Christmas tree.

During this season we hear so many stories from for profit companies that remind us of what so many children lack, but if we aren’t committed to participating in long term solutions, then we’re reducing them down to nothing more than poverty porn.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea of gifts, even one time gifts, to families that would never receive them, but to do so should not require releasing a video to the world showcasing their lack under the guise of showcasing their compassion.

Of course these children chose the gifts for their parents. You just proved what every mother on planet Earth knows about her children. Just because children lack economic resources doesn’t mean that they lack kindness, love or even charity. They are, after all, human beings. Posing the question assumes that because they have less, they’d be selfish with what they have, yet time and time again this has proven untrue. This is a trend that needs to stop. After all, I (and many others) believe that ALL kids from ALL walks of life would act this way. Being a good person is not contingent on how much one has or does not have. And if these children decided to choose the gift they wanted, does that make them selfish or wrong? Because that is what your video is saying.

I want to feel good seeing the impacts of programs that support communities, that create jobs, that provide stable housing, but that doesn’t sound like it would be easy to make into a viral video. Maybe that’s because charity should go well beyond viral videos which help corporations far more than the subjects of the videos. You know, the human beings who actually need help.

I do hope you consider doing more for these families and think twice about your next marketing campaign.

Sincerely,

Myndee Corkern

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Myndee is a 35ish year old New Orleans area native. She's an author, speaker and self-love advocate. As an introverted extrovert, Myndee loves being part of the generation where most of her friends live in her computer. She and her husband, Luis, live just outside the city with their three kids.

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