Comic Relief film starring Ed Sheeran slammed as ‘poverty porn’

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"He is portrayed as the only one coming down and being able to help.”

A Comic Relief appeal that saw the likes of Ed Sheeran, Tom Hardy and Eddie Redmayne heading to Africa has been criticised for reportedly perpetuating white saviour stereotypes.

The three films, which were created for Comic Relief and the Disasters Emergencies Committee (DEC), were criticised after being nominated for “most offensive” campaigns of 2017 by the Radi-Aid awards.

The annual contest, which focuses on efforts to move away from stereotypes of impoverished people, claimed that Sheeran’s trip to Liberia amounted to “poverty tourism”.

Hardy’s video was also criticised for showing graphic images of children who are “devoid of dignity”, and likened to the Live Aid coverage of the 1980s.

Beathe Øgård, the head of Norwegian Students and Academics International Assistance Fund (Saih), who organised the content, told The Guardian: “Ed Sheeran has good intentions.

“But the problem is the video is focused on Ed Sheeran as the main character. He is portrayed as the only one coming down and being able to help.”

She also acknowledged that their fundraising is bringing in much needed donations, but argued that the “backward images” is making it seem like progress is not being achieved in tackling poverty.

We have been presented with these kind of images since the 1980s,” she said. “They are horrible to watch. People are so used to them that for many they reinforce that feeling of hopelessness and apathy – and even a negative view of development in that nothing is going in the right direction.”