Each year the Norwegian based organisation Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH) highlight the very best and worst of charity aid videos to try and change the way the aid industry approaches development and how poverty is represented. They look for those that are misrepresenting the people they claim to help, stereotype and possibly hinder development for the Rusty Radiator Award and highlight how things should be done with the Golden Radiator Award. Below are the winners and the two runners up in each category.
Winner of the Rusty Radiator Award: Band Aid 30 – Do They Know Its Christmas
The famous song which went to the top of the UK charts late last year came under particular attack from the judges. Martine Jahre, Vice President of SAIH, said, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and this is also the case when it comes to the song Do They Know It’s Christmas, Special Ebola Edition. The music video is condescending, incorrect and long due its expiration date. Bob Geldof and his celebrity friends portray Africa as a doomed continent, a lost case without their saviors from the West. This is a musical performance of the white man’s burden. Pathetic and harmful at best.”
I wrote about the damage that such stereotypes can do when the song came out.
Finalist: Aid for African Children – Humanitarian Aid Foundation
Pictures of young children with a cheesy Michael Jackson over the top. Excellent.
Finalist: One World Campaign – Feed a Child (with Jack Stone)
Man turns up with a guitar to feed children in a village. How will they survive without him?
Winner of the Golden Radiator Award: The Heroes and the Miracle Baby – White Helmets in Syria
A truly worthy winner. As Martine says, “The media is booming with stories and pictures of helpless Syrian refugees. This film represent a different story. It shows you Syrians, risking their lives on a daily basis, in order to save their fellowmen. Not least, it shows that you can tell a strong and graphic story without using stereotypical pictures. In this video, the donors are not the number one priority; instead, they choose to be true to the issue.”
Finalist: If Men Had Periods … Manpons – WaterAid
This videos targets a taboo and nails it. It highlights the problem that millions of women face all over the world.
Finalist: Zalissa’s Choice – Kinderpostzegels
This beautifully shot film shows what can happen when NGOs really understand the community they are working with. People in the global south are often portrayed as passive but it still takes a video like this to show that they want the best for their children, like any parent across the world.
So next time you see a charity appeal on TV, think about how you would like to be represented if you were in that situation. Is the video using lazy stereotypes or coming from an angle of respect for the people they are representing? If you’re able to make a donation this puts you in a position of power, use it wisely.