Reality Show Puts Australians In Asylum Seekers’ Shoes

Reality Show Puts Australians In Asylum Seekers’ Shoes
Arts & Culture

A new controversial TV series seeks to raise awareness for the plight of the refugee.

Claudia Cukrov
  • 23 june 2011

A new Australian reality series tackles the much-debated subject of asylum seekers by sending six ordinary citizens on a journey retracing the steps of the ‘boat people.’

The three-part series, ‘Go Back Where You Came From’ sends the participants on a twenty-five-day journey simulating the challenges asylum seekers endure to reach Australia – in reverse;

Deprived of their wallets, phones and passports, the participants are forced to live like refugees, experiencing a trip aboard a leaky refugee boat, immigration raids in Malaysia, a refugee camp in Kenya, and squalid housing conditions in Jordan; culminating in them ‘going all the way back’ to war zones in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq.

After 25 days, both groups meet in Dubai for a final debrief with host David Corlett. Some have changed their opinions, some have not, but it is clear that regardless of their views, not one of the participants has escaped unaffected by this intense journey

Asylum seekers and in particular – ‘boat people’ – have been a long-running debate in Australia, yet reportedly illegal immigrants are more likely to arrive by air than by boat.

Commissioning editor at Australian broadcasting network SBS Peter Newman hopes the series will educate viewers on the motivations and incredible hardships some endure to come to Australia’s shores:

When politicians and people say ‘Stop the boats,’ what do they mean? What’s behind those slogans?

The project has come under fire from some – The Sydney Morning Herald claiming the whole series has been strung together to extract empathy from its viewers;

A comment that sums up the falsity at the centre of this debate and the three-part series Go Back to Where You Came From was made by one of the six manipulated participants in the show, Darren Hassan, who complained that the group was being subjected to enforced empathy.

He had seen the loaded dice at the centre of the progressive argument about boat people: that if you believe in stopping the small number of asylum seekers who arrive by boat, you are lacking in empathy, lacking in compassion, and probably anti-Muslim.

The entire series is designed to enforce this maxim. The participants are lied to. The audience is lied to. This is an empathy forced march.

Watch the teaser clip below;

Go Back Where You Came From

[via The New York Times & The Sydney Morning Herald]

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