In Consuming Hunger we are presented with a real problem in mass media, the very real battle between what is real and what will sell. There are two media campaigns featured; one is the coverage of the famine in Ethiopia, the other of Hands Across America. One deals with hunger in a foreign country, and the other deals with hunger in the filmmakers" own country, America. .
The problem that faced some of the early documentaries about Ethiopia, was that their footage wasn't selling because it was not dramatic enough, and this footage would not sell. Hunger was a basic fact of life and only an extreme famine, one of biblical proportions, would capture the viewers" attention and sell to the audience. This view, that sensationalism sells, prompted the Ethiopian problem to be ignored until it was a full-blown problem. That was the only time footage was aired, when it sensationalized the hungry masses huddled together. This view of reality, while giving us an actual glimpse of the real, selected images that would emphasize the despair of the Ethiopian people. It did not give an all over view, as there were some areas of Ethiopia that wasn't as poor or impoverished, but the camera of these filmmakers were pointed at scenes of tragedy and high dramatic value, in the hopes that these images would draw more attention. .
In Hands Across America however, where American filmmakers were dealing with the problems of their own country, they chose to draw attention to the charity organization by making it a fun activity. The proximity of the poor and hungry was too uncomfortable to capitalize on it by sensationalizing it, they drew attention to the fund-raising by making it a celebration of American ideals, helping a fellowman, generosity, .
an America where anyone can make it, family, charity and the like. Again we see a modification of style in favor of what would be more lucrative as a marketing tool.