Frontline: Poor Kids
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FRONTLINE spent months following three young girls who are growing up against the backdrop of their families struggles against financial ruin. The result is an intimate portrait of the economic crisis as its rarely seen, through the eyes of children. Poor Kids is an unflinching and revealing exploration of what poverty means to children, and to the countrys future.
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This work is an important challenge to the fallacy that all Americans are middle-class. I have seen so many examples of adults who reflect, "I didn't know I was poor until I was in college. There was so much love in our house that money never seemed like an issue." No!: these kids know they are poor. They know their families are struggling financially. What's great is how this doc can open the eyes of Middle America. One family lost a home and were about to lose their second, poor-quality home. One set of children were sick of eating pizza and wanted fruit, which is more expensive. This is the total opposite to the idea that children love pizza and hate the healthy stuff. Another family is seen in a homeless shelter. They show the children diligently doing chores because they knew failure to do so could get them evicted from the shelter.
The typical, resonant man's voice that you hear in Frontline works is only present once. Facts about American poverty are written on road signs. Like the shows Intervention and Hoarders, you have to do work by reading the facts. I think recently Frontline covered the real-life problem of dropping out of high school and perhaps one should see these installments back to back as an eye opener.
Two things were difficult for me to watch. One couple gets pregnant again. If you know you don't have money, then why don't you work hard not to get prgenant!? Then again, poor people around the world have complained that if they had more education and more info and supply of birth control, then they would gladly use it. Later, the mother gets her tubes tied. However, I wondered why her husband didn't get snippy-snippy. Why was the onus on the woman? Is this sexist? Second, a Black teen complains to his mother about wanting some Air Jordans. His mother very rationally states that the family can't afford that. The son mistakenly assumes he will never have a basketball scholarship to college without it. Modern American marketing makes us all want products we really don't need. Marx predicted this and called it the commodity fetish. The kid was just being a kid; I need to empathize with that. However, there is a way in which that felt bratty. I'm Black and it makes me sad that too many Black kids think this-or-that fashion product will make the world better, and it won't.
Here's why I give a lower rating: the show had little background music and talking heads. Thus, it moves sloooooowlyyyyy! I mean, the program is being true to life. Further, what are called "reality shows" are anything but realistic. Still, if our zip-zip world makes it hard to focus on boring stuff, you may struggle watching this. The lives of poor children can be sad and the slow pace may make you want to abandon the program, rather than going through its entire journey.