Friday, 14 November 2008

Rich kid, poor kid

I realise most people will not have seen it, but I feel rather compelled to post about the documentary Rich Kid, Poor Kid, that was shown on Channel 4 last week. It was set in Clapham North/Stockwell - ie on our doorstep - so I was interested to watch something that contrasted the South London lives of two teenage girls; Alice, a private schoolgirl living in a large house, and Natalie, who had left school at 15 and lived in a two bedroom council flat with a mum on benefits and her little brother.

It made such an impression, because Alice really was the worst advert for a private education I have ever seen. She talked about state school kids as if they were the scum of the earth, bitched about 'chavs' and said the worst thing she could think of in the world would be to send her own kids to a state school. Yet -until she met Natalie in the programme - she had never met any. Instead she boasted about her friends being in the Sunday Times Rich List. Natalie, meanwhile, was great - feisty, fiercely defensive of her mum (who suffered from mental health problems) and the great champion of her little brother, whom the family had somehow failed to register for primary school. When she visited the rich house, she was most overawed by the fact that they had a piano. She was by far the more-open minded of the two.

To be fair, when the two girls met, they got on quite well, and by the end, Alice was saying that perhaps she regretted some of the comments she'd made. And yes, they clearly did spring from ignorance and to some extent, fear (she had been mugged several times).

But by the end of the programme, it was the 'posh' parents I couldn't believe. Alice was only 15. First of all, why on earth did they let her be filmed in this way, spouting prejudice and ignorance - were they unaware that it was likely to be edited unfavourably (as these things always are) and that it would expose not only their daughter's attitude but their own? Her comments will surely haunt her for years and they should at the very least have demanded some editorial control of the final cut.

Secondly, if my children ended up speaking like Alice did about other people, I would be mortified. One suspected that at no point had they told her anything other than what she believed. In fact, you could tell from the few comments by the mother in the film that they probably stemmed directly from her. I know people like this exist - in fact, quite a few of them went to my school - but the mind boggles, it really does.

So what does anyone think - would you let your child be filmed for a documentary?

17 comments:

Expat mum said...

It would have to depend entirely on the documentary subject. Definitely not about their private school attendance though.
I can't stand snobbery - especially between kids because they have done NOTHING to get where they are, posh or not. It used to bug the cr*p out of me when I was at uni that some super rick kids used to lord it over everyone else, as if they had earned all their parents' money.

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Mac informed the other day that when he's big he's going to have his own television show to build things. David is now convinced he wants to be Tommy Walsh.

Nota Bene said...

"Just cummapence" in my harsh book...in my generous-spirit book, there may be some sympathy. I'm so pleased that The Boy spent his early years in a state school in Finsbury Park, so had some vital exposure to people from all walks of life..

Bathsheba said...

Yes - and the sad thing is that I certainly have met a few who are EXACTLY like the mum and don't live a million miles from her. Let's just hope the whole family learns from the experience.

Iota said...

No, I absolutely wouldn't allow my children to appear in a documentary. I wouldn't want to myself, for that matter.

Sounds an interesting programme.

Potty Mummy said...

I wish I had seen it. And no, no way would I let the boys do it. Of course, we are assuming that the parents were consulted. From what I hear 15 year-old girls are a force to be reckoned with these days!

A Work in Progress said...

Oh - I saw this! I was dying to have someone to discuss it with but no one I know watched it either. I couldn't believe that Alice was for real - I half thought she was playacting or something - at one point her mother made a comment about Alice having always been "quite a character." She (Alice) also called her mother a bitch at one point, and they left that in. I wonder if the whole thing was an elaborate teenage rebellion acting-out exercise. I also thought her "revelation" at the end was just a little bit too neat. I can't imagine that any 15-year-old who attends a London day school would be that thick, but did they make a reference to her attending boarding school? Not sure. Most shocking for me were the conditions that Natalie and her brother grew up in - the mother seemed completely incapable of taking care of them, the flat, or herself. In a way the producers did not do themselves any favors by choosing that family, because you couldn't argue that their poverty was not self-inflicted. I realize that the mom is mentally ill, but it's a bit unfair to imply that someone on benefits, who doesn't work and can't even clean up after herself, should be living to the same standard as a middle class family that works hard.

http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...

nope, definately not. would have loved to have seen it, though. i think it sounds fascinating. I'd also be interested on my own teens' take on it.

Tara said...

I find these sorts of programmes a bit manipulative and too 'tidy' to be real.
Are people really that stereotypical or have they found the most outrageous pair they could and then manipulated the show for good ratings.
Or am I just too cynical?
But hell no, I wouldn't let myself or my kids anywhere near a camera like that!

By the way, thanks so much for visiting and leaving lovely comments on my last day at Dawn Till Rusk. I really appreciate it.
Am no longer a Rusk, am a Sticky from now on!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Yes. These programmes do engineer stuff. That said I'm determined (laugh as if we have the money to do otherwise!) to send our children to state school. I went to a private girls school and it was mega bitchy. TV cameras? No thanks.

Audrey said...

I didn't see the program, having gathered from the review and your post that it would be another example of the class system alive and thriving here and all the ridiculous stuff that goes along with it. But you've raised an interesting question about what were the parents thinking. I would guess that in today's celebrity culture where people don't really care WHY they are in the news that the parent's didn't think it through. Also, I would also surmise, given the rich girls points of view that she was really echoing her parents anyway so they wouldn't be aware of how asine it might sound on national tv. Sad.

nappy valley girl said...

Expat Mum - agreed, I think it's such a sensitive subject that I would never let my children speak on national TV about it, whether they went state or private.

Nunhead Mum - well, that could range from anything from Bob the Builder to Kevin McLoud on Grand Designs, couldn't it?

NB - that is one of the reasons that in my heart of hearts, I would rather my little boys went state to begin with. I don't want them turning into little toffee-nosed snobs!

Bathsheba - I think they are bound to learn something from the experience - if only that they should never have taken part! (Glad to have found your Stockwell blog by the way...)

Iota- it was interesting. I believe it can be downloaded from the C4 website - although don't know if this would work in the US! There was a clip on Youtube, but it seems to have disappeared....

nappy valley girl said...

PM - good point - and I'm sure Alice would have pushed to do the film (she was into drama and probably, foolishly, thought it would make her a celebrity) but I would think the parents MUST have had to give their consent to the filmmakers. Plus they seemed quite happy to have let the camera crew into their house, car etc.....

A work in progress - aha, someone else who watched it! From what I've read elsewhere I believe this girl does attend a London day school, in Dulwich. And yes, you could be right about the rebellion thing. Natalie's family was quite extreme, I agree. But I guess the filmmakers were just trying to find the greatest contrast in the same street.

RM - see above - you may be able to watch again from C4 at some point....

Tara - yes, these programmes always are very biased, and not at all subtle. That's why I think the parents should have known better.

Hadriana - yes, from my experience girls' private schools are incredibly bitchy. I am just glad I have boys...

Audrey- you make good points, although the rich girl's parents weren't really the sort that would have wanted to be famous. I think they probably just didn't think it through.

Anonymous said...

I heard a rumour (urban myth?) that she has allegedly since been expelled from her school for statements made in uniform. When I heard the school she attended I was stunned - they have a reputation for only taking the very very brightest.

Mud in the City said...

I saw this and my reaction was the same as yours. How on earth could any parent be comfortable with their teenage daughter being filmed like this? It was obvious from teh outset that she'd be edited to sound like an extreme end of the spectrum - and they managed to get film of her saying dreadful things. But, as a parent, not to have any rights over what was broadcast (I'd imagine) is madness!

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

Wow, what I miss out on living in Albania! Am going to look for the download immeditaely tho prob won't have the patience to watch it, internet is so slow here, it will stop start all the time. I wdn't let my kids do a t.v prog like that but sounded so fascinating. And I do think it has some worth however 'engineered' or edited,it DOES give a glimpse into 2 very different lives, even with nothign said. Society is very divided and that ignorance does breed prejudice & fear &/or misconceptions

Anonymous said...

Does any one know where I can download rich kid poor kid for free??? Thanks Charlie