“Since 2012 enough social housing have been sold not the probate market to house the population of Oxford..and it hasn’t been replaced”. So says a character in a new short by Dorothy Allen-Pickard, titled Objectified, presenting just how stark the UK landscape is. The short, is a compilation of dramatised dialogue taken from real conversations, and the film takes snapshots from these conversations about homeless communities and attempts to shine a light on stories often rendered invisible.
Pickard aims to look at the neurological origins of ‘dehumanisation’, speaking to neuroscientist Dr Lasana. Harris about the science of how dehumanised perception occurs. They look at cultural attitudes and focus on Japan as an example – where culturally, homelessness is viewed with sympathy, because a higher level of the population have experienced, or been close to experiencing, the same fate thanks to climate disasters, to pick an example. The film tries to explore a central question: why does the UK appear to have a harder heart to these stories and what can we do about it?
Speaking to It’s Nice That about the project, Pickard says, “I met Dr. Lasana Harris, a neuroscientist who’s conducting research into homelessness and dehumanisation. His work demonstrates how our brain reactions differ in response to homeless people and to put it simply, we shut off. What’s really interesting is that by changing our cultural attitudes to homelessness we can change how our brains work.”
“That’s why the film features a group conversation, a neuroscientist’s research, and a verbatim performance to reflect the multiplicity of experiences and move the focus on from individual’s experiences, as this is a systematic problem.”
“Some of the interviews are playful, and others are much more desperate or sad, but they’re all so powerful. I was surprised to realise that my own perception of homelessness changed each time.”
Commissioned by the Museum of Homelessness, Objectified gives the story back to those on the frontline of the experience. Perhaps the last word should be left with a contributor who has a simple effective answer to the big question of what can be done: “Just wake the f**k up, it’s that simple…there isn’t one story that isn’t important because even the you’ve got nothing, you still have your story”.