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Homeless In Hollywood

Entertaining Ideas Of Homelessness Versus The Reality Of What We See Every Day

Entertainment media has given us unrealistic ideas of what to expect from individuals struggling with homelessness. If we don’t see a success story like Will Smith in the movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” then often we see a person who follows the stereotype: one who is crazy, on drugs, has raggedy clothes. These depictions lead us into dangerous territory, and we begin to see homelessness as existing in this neat, little box where people who are dressed nicely and own cars, or pets, or go to college, cannot be homeless. Both of these extremes are not representative of the middle and more common area, the real population that is struggling with homelessness. Homelessness for the sake of entertainment, as in The Jerk, Life Stinks and Curly Sue, has derogatory and dehumanizing portrayals that easily become the norm and quickly influence the public perception by perpetuating stereotypes. Constantly being exposed to these stereotypical portrayals of homelessness leads us to fall prey to adopting these problematic perceptions of it, which distances us from the issues that most need our attention and empathy.

We constantly see portrayals of the way homelessness negatively affects our society, but rarely do we hear about how this situation affects those individuals who are struggling with it. Rarely do we hear their voices and stories that make us feel connected to their struggle.

Adapted from

How Homelessness Is Distorted in the Media

By Meriah Barajas,

Here are ten entertaining ideas of homelessness and facts and reality ...

LIFE STINKS An arrogant businessman, played by Mel Brooks, bets that he can live penniless and anonymous on the streets of L.A. for 30 days.

For the umpteenth time, homelessness is not a choice. It’s the result of one or more adversities in life, including loss of a job, workplace injury, change in family status including death and divorce, and chronic illness.THE JERK An imbecile, Navin (Steve Martin) invents a gadget that makes him a multi-millionaire, a gadget that is defective, that result in deaths and in his financial ruin. Bankrupt, Navin ends up homeless. In 2018, 128,846 insolvencies were filed with Canada’s Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB). This represents a 2.4% increase from the previous year.DOWN & OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS Unlucky and homeless, Dave (Nick Nolte) decides to call it quits, and so sneaks into a stranger's backyard and tries to drown himself in the pool. Dave is saved by the pool's owner, white-collar businessman Dave (Richard Dreyfuss), who pulls the tramp out of the water and into his home. The lifespan of an elder homeless man is almost half that of an average Canadian male at 48 years versus 84, respectively.PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES Neal Page (Steve Martin) joins Del Griffith (John Candy) in a mishap filled trek home for the holidays. In the process, Page learns that the journey home is fruitless for Griffith who is homeless. After the death of his wife, Danny struggled to care for his children and make ends meet. At the age of 50, Danny became homeless for the first time in his life. He turned to Haven Toronto for support.FLETCH In an effort to get the whole story, investigative reporter Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher (Chevy Chase) takes on an array of colourful characters including a homeless man on a California beach. Coastal cities with moderate climates are inviting to homeless people. However, there is a battle in cities like San Francisco where the poor have been forced out, and into homelessness.HANCOCK Hancock, played by Will Smith, is a scruffy superhero who does more damage than good with every well-intentioned feat. As he falls out of favour, the superhero finds himself on the streets. Not everyone who is homeless is angry. Quite the opposite, actually. Many elder homeless men are caring and look out for each other. Many more are charitable, the first to share, and quick to give support.YOU, ME AND DUPREE Newlyweds Carl (Matt Dillon) and Molly (Kate Hudson) are anxious to start their lives together, until they are joined by a jobless friend, Randy (Owen Wilson) who couch surfs while trying to turn his life around. Many people who become homeless do not show up in official figures. This is known as hidden homelessness and includes people who find a temporary solution by staying with family or friends.CURLY SUE Jim Belushi plays Bill, a penniless drifter who scams strangers out of just enough money to feed himself and his partner in crime, an orphan girl known as Curly Sue. Contrary to popular belief, people who are homeless are more exposed and more vulnerable than the general population. If you are homeless, research suggests that you will be attacked, on average, at least once every year.TRADING PLACES Eddie Murphy plays a down-and-out hustler named Billy Ray Valentine who switches places with a successful and respected trader on the stock market, all part of a bet between the Dukes, two millionaire brothers. There is no quick fix to the problem of homelessness. Even a windfall of money isn’t a long-term solution; 70 percent of people who win a lottery or get a big windfall actually end up broke.GROUNDHOG DAY A cynical TV weatherman finds himself reliving the same day over and over again, a situation he uses to his advantage, including coming to the aid of an elder homeless man who dies in the streets of Punxsutawney. Punxsutawney and Jefferson County have 13 homeless people, total. There are 17 in Wiarton and Bruce County. Any night in Toronto, 10,000 are homeless, 75% are male, many are our clients.




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