Awareness campaign fail, immigration edition

The Running Man Show, bringing awareness to the plight of wrongfully-imprisoned convicts

From The Guardian:

Contestants on the one-off game show from the public broadcaster VPRO, part of an annual week of experimental programmes, comprise five asylum seekers who have exhausted legal avenues to stay in the Netherlands and await imminent deportation to their country of origin.

They compete in a quiz about Dutch culture, history and language, with the winner awarded €4,000 (£3,500) to help cushion them when they are expelled. Consolation prizes include a bulletproof vest.

The seemingly glib tone is magnified by a smarmy male host flanked by a pair of female assistants wearing a mini-skirted pastiche of air cabin crew uniforms. The title is a play on words, meaning either Leaving the Netherlands or Mad About the Netherlands.

But wait, it’s actually a well-intended liberal scheme to raise awareness about the plight of asylum seekers:

With well educated, eloquent contestants who include an aeronautical engineer from Cameroon and a Slavic languages student facing removal to Chechnya, the intention is, far from mocking asylum seekers, to instead demonstrate how well integrated many are.

“Weg van Nederland focuses attention on the fact that, these days, many asylum seekers who are being expelled have children who have lived in the Netherlands for eight years or more. They have had a good education, speak perfect Dutch and have only seen their country of birth on television. We believe it’s time to stop and think about this.

Wasn’t it obvious?

4 thoughts on “Awareness campaign fail, immigration edition

  1. Liam

    September 2, 2011 at 12:58pm

    What makes you think this is a `fail’?

  2. Matt

    September 2, 2011 at 1:12pm

    Within their target audience, those likely to be sympathetic to asylum seekers are probably going to be turned off by the garishness of it all. Those who aren’t already sympathetic who they are trying to convince probably won’t get that the show is being facetious.

    All fails are relative – how is this likely to be more effective than, say, a simple documentary?

  3. Liam

    September 2, 2011 at 1:37pm

    > Within their target audience, those likely to be sympathetic to asylum
    > seekers are probably going to be turned off by the garishness of it all

    I agree

    > Those who aren’t already sympathetic who they are trying to convince
    > probably won’t get that the show is being facetious.

    I’m not sure that that’s a problem. It may simply be useful for the audience to gain a different impression of who `failed asylum seekers’ are. If you diagnose the problem being that a lot of people think that all failed asylum seekers are benefit scroungers who don’t speak the language, then this may go some way to changing that impression.

    > All fails are relative – how is this likely to be more effective than, say, a simple documentary?

    My sense would be that you may get a different audience watching. This also has a `shock’ factor that will get publicity that a documentary wouldn’t.

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