Open Topic

This class has been a real eye opening experience for me and I really do mean that. I have kind of been the person that has always been shouting America is the best. I am a patriotic person. I served in the military. I am a proud American. However, I was also an ignorant American as well. I have said many times that the greatest experiences that I’ve had are when I get to leave the United States and see the world. Having been to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, Bahrain, and Turkey has shown me parts of the world I’d never see otherwhise. However, I’ve still remained ignorant to the struggles of different groups from around the world.

In souteast Asia there is a huge problem with sex trafficing and under age girls being sold into a life of abuse. There is a problem with sanitary conditions for people all over Asia. Food is hard to get in some places. Yet all I can think about is what I’m having for dinner or why does McDonald’s always screw up my order? It’s embarassing to think that I might not be as opened mineded and willing to help others as I thought I was.

Maybe I need to travel more but instead of going to the tourist attractions, I should take my ass to places where people genuinelly need help. Seeing my father come back from his mission trips in Honduras really opened my eyes to the joy that he receives when he helps people. I honestly believe the problem with America today is that we’re too selfish. We have the ability to help others yet we lack the desire to do so. In conclusion, I’m glad I took this class because I needed to be reminded that America is a great country but it has great problems. I will aways remember to see the other side of the coin before I make any judgements.

Politcs and Film

While watching movies I’ve always been the type of person that looks for some hidden message or to try and find things going on in the background that perhaps other viewers might miss. Saying that, I realize that political messages are in movies at times where we might think there are none. Take a movie like the second Captain America move Captain America: Winter Soldier. Throughout the movie Captain America is fighting the Winter Soldeir but he’s also fighting with Robert Redford’s character because Redford wants to launch a program that would monitor and keep tabs on every person on the planet. When I first watched this movie I didn’t really think anything about it but now it seems to me as a message that complete power and control should never be given to one person/group because things like this can happen.

There are times where movies don’t have the intent to have a political message but other times they do. In Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine, we have a movie that is very clear about it’s politcal message on guns – they are bad. I will not say in agreement or disagreement my stances on the movie but when it came out I remember the conversations that were had as a result.

In closing I’ll say that movies, whether intentionally political or not, have the power to not only say what they want, but also to get people to start having conversations about topics they might not otherwise have. It’s a shame that in this country we only seem to talk about the major issues when a tragedy like the Orlando shootings happen. Perhaps more movies need to convey a message in order to get people to actually think about all sides of an argument.

Transnationalism, Mississippi Masala, My Experiences

Transnationalism is a word that I never really gave much thought to it’s meaning. I didn’t really think about how moving from one country to another and living in that society could be difficult. I didn’t think about how moving from one country you’ve lived in your entire life, to a new country that’s completely different than what you’re used to, where there are no people you’re familiar with. However, these sorts of feelings can happen within your own community. If you don’t fit in to the society in which you live in, you can be excluded from society as a whole.

Before I watched Mississippi Masala, I decided to look up some information about the film and learned that the family was forced to leave Uganda because Indians were becoming wealthier than the local Ugandan people and the president forced them to leave but (summarizing) but this even actually took place. Asian men and women in Uganda were actually making more money and wealth, so they were forced to leave. When I read this I immediately thought about other cases of groups of people being forced to leave their homes and it’s not a “good list”.

In Mississippi Masala we see these feelings of anger brought on by Meena’s father at the fact that his daughter is dating a man of color. The revelation that Jay’s daughter was dating a man of color had to of brought up these mixed feelings of emotions for Jay. I even began to think of the partition of the Hindu/Muslim community of India when the British left India to rule itself in the 1940’s. To think that people’s lives were displaced or changed forever simply because of their color of skin or religious beliefs is truly saddening, to say the least.

Living in a new country and dealing with the difficulties that come with that can be difficult and I know that first hand. My mother was an immigrant from this country from Germany and she has always told me growing up that it was hard for her when she first moved here. When she married my father, my grandfather was FURIOUS and didn’t talk to my mother for over 25 years! I understand Meena’s situation because I’ve seen it first hand.

I will wrap up my post by saying that I thought this was something that was no longer an issue but then I realized that the Israeli/Palestinian conflicts are no different. People want a place to feel like they belong to a community of people who are just like they are. For a lack of better words, people want to belong to something. If we as humans can’t realize the importance of difference than we’re in trouble. Our differences and how we live are lives are important parts of what makes us who we are.

 

 

Gangs of Wasseypur

In Gangs of Wasseypur we see a story of power obtained through wealth and through force. This movie shows us the different ways in which people obained their power throughout the movie. This movie is shown through the eyes of Ramadhir Singh who has power over the police and can get anything he wants. He achieved his wealth when India gained it’s independence from the British. He is so cheap that he only pays his employees or gives them a place to stay and food. He doesn’t do both. It’s these injustices that lead Shahid Khan to speak up for equality for workers and he was killed for it. The power can only keep power as long as the people do nothing. When Khan spoke up he was killed for it.

His son Sardar becomes a low level thug and wants revenge for his father’s death but for me this is where the show/movie turns for me. After the robbing of trains and buying/selling weapons, Shahid decides he just wants to blackmail people rather than risking the weapons and train robbing. Throughout the show Shahid takes very little notion to what his actions are doing to his family and he’s doing all of these things to obtain a life that he was fighting in the first place. In the end I thought it was justice almost that Shahid was shot. He wanted to revenge his father’s death but while doing so forgot what his father died for.

Slumdog Millionare and an Americanized World

There are a lot of things that the Western culture pushes or gives (depending on your view of the subject) the world different ideas and ways of thinking about things. I have traveled the world and I see the difference in American views on things and the same views around the world. I have seen countries so poor where young baby boys are given away (I had this happen to me in Thailand actually) because the father can’t turn them into sex slaves like they can with their children. I’ve seen parts of the world where small, simple things we take for granted are fought for every day. Seeing a movie like Slumdog Millionaire reminded me of the struggle that people around the world face every day that we have no idea about. I understand that there is people in this country that are in terrible situations but for the sake of this class and post I’ll discuss the topics I saw in the film in regards to globalism.

The scene I thought was most telling of the views of globalism and the ways in which western culture can influence minds around the world is the scene where Jamal and Salim are stealing shoes at the Taj Mahal. These two boys are stealing shoes from tourists and they are choosing to steal shoes and clothes that are more American style of clothing. Although these two boys are from a different part of the world with little to no access to life outside of their small part of the world, these two boys still choose to wear these clothes. Perhaps it’s a way for them to feel as though they have something more than what they actually do. Perhaps it’s a way for them to pretend that they are in a different place where they have everything they want and need. However, does this western view portray this as “happiness through money”?

Even when Jamal gets his job at the magazine in his late teens we see this idea of western culture being pushed on to Jamal. There is even an article that seems to me to be an Indian version of the Jennifer Anniston and Angelina Jolie “battle”. While this movie is trying to make people feel as though life can teach us things, I feel it depicts globalization in a bad way. First of all, I can’t believe that all of Indians live the way the movie makes it seem. I understand there is poverty in India but I felt like the movie went over the top at times to portray Indians as a poor people as a hole. While looking at various topics on this movie I even found out that slum dog is a derogatory term for Indian people.

This movie for me wasn’t this great, “feel good” movie that everyone else thought it was. I see this movie as a way for American views (and I say American because that’s what is being pushed in the movie) to be seen as good and that everyone should be like America because we have this great idea of what freedom should look like. I am proud to be an American. I spent four years of my life defending this country but I do feel at times we push our views on other countries. If countries around the world want to be more westernized than so be it, but it should be done on a people’s or coutry’s own terms and time. If this movie wanted to move me then it certainly did. It moved me to be more thoughtful of what I watch and think deeper about a movie than just what is on the surface.

Gender, Sexuality, Society, Equality

Society often dictates what is acceptable and what is the “norm”. And sometimes the larger collective isn’t always right and people get abused and taken advantage of because of it. With Bhumika we see Usha earning a living as an actress and in her caste she is typically not allowed to marry but she does anyways. This represents difficulties for Keshav but I argue that it represents issues for a lot of men. I know that in today’s age we tend to think of ourselves as more knowledgeable and therefore more understanding but I do think it’s an inherent thing for some men to feel emasculated when their spouse makes more money than they do (whether it’s a heterosexual relationship or not). I just feel that it’s in men’s nature to desire to feel this way. However, where some men differ with this is how they react to it. Obviously we see Keshav’s reaction to Usha’s behavior throughout the movie and meet it with disgust.

In the article I thought it was interesting that the author talked about what exactly the movie seemed to be about.

“Sexual difference and female subjectivity are the pillars around which Benegal situates his analysis of women’s subjugation. He moves from an exploration of the self to an exploration of subjectivity. The relationship between self and society seems to get deliberately subverted and here lies his failure to comprehend the complexities and the essence of women’s problems and see only the phenomenal level of what appears to be the issue at stake.”

Ranjani Mazumdar

I do feel that it was a hypocritical thing of Keshav to do where he suggests that Usha use her sexuality in order to make more money yet by the end of the movie he becomes violent and jealous of her relationship with Vinayak. I don’t really know how to explain this. I would like to think that this was/is just a director’s representation of what things COULD look like yet I know better than to think that this doesn’t happen even today.

The one thing that I found interesting too was the idea of non-marriage for people of this acting/musician caste. I feel confused honestly at how I should feel about all this because one hand I see how women can be treated yet at the same time I feel it’s a culture that has been in place for some time and who am I to decide what another country should or shouldn’t do? I know that here in the United States we wouldn’t feel like an actress or artist of some sort shouldn’t get married but in other places perhaps they do. As you can see, I’m conflicted. I try and see both sides of the argument yet both sides make no sense but at the same time make complete sense.

With these movies coming out such a long time ago I wonder how things are in India today in regards to these issues of women’s rights and how they are treated in and out of the home. While looking at various articles I came across an article written by the BBC called “How India treats its women” and this article talks about the alarming number of rape cases going across the entire country. At one point in the article it says that there are six various politicians who had rape charges against them at the time of this article (December of 2012). The most surprising thing to me about all of the numbers and stories was that India at this time had a large number of women in positions of power.

“This in the country where the leader of the ruling party, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, at least three chief ministers, and a number of sports and business icons are women.”

Soutik Biswas

And again I feel like I don’t know how exactly to feel about all of this. I feel so appalled that these numbers are so extremely high. I will post a link to the article from BBC and if you read it you will see for yourself that the numbers are astounding. I guess this changes a lot. How can it be that women have positions of power yet women are still mistreated? For me it all comes back to the beginning of my post and societal norms and the views of caste in the Indian culture. Perhaps it’s a system that feels that some people aren’t worth the trouble. I don’t know exactly how it would be said or felt but that’s just how it comes across to me. At the bottom of this page I’m going to post the numbers from the BBC article and the link to it if anyone wants to read it. It was written in 2012 and I hope that things have gotten better for women in India but I’m not 100% sure if that’s the case.


This Is A Link To The BBC Article If You’d Like To Read It
All of the following is from the article from BBC:

With more than 24,000 reported cases in 2011, rape registered a 9.2% rise over the previous year. More than half (54.7%) of the victims were aged between 18 and 30. Most disturbingly, according to police records, their victims in more than 94% of the cases knew the offenders. Neighbors accounted for a third of the offenders, while parents and other relatives were also involved. Delhi accounted for over 17% of the total number of rape cases in the country.

And it is not rape alone. Police records from 2011 show kidnappings and abductions of women were up 19.4%, women being killed in disputes over dowry payments by 2.7%, torture by 5.4%, molestation by 5.8% and trafficking by an alarming 122% over the previous year.

Deaths from fire-related incidents, they say, are a major cause – fires in India kill each year more than 100,000 women. The researchers say many cases could be linked to demands over a dowry leading to women being set on fire. Research also found a large number of women died of heart diseases.

 

Nationalism

I feel that being a proud part of any community is something that isn’t wrong. The problem with being so proud of who you are as a community is that sometimes you aren’t willing to let others who don’t fit into your community, into your social circle. In the film Ghandi that we watched we saw people who were friendly throughout the entire movie almost turn on each other once India was going to be partitianed and seperated into different countries based soley on religion. It’s not a bad thing to have a sense of pride for the community or group you belong to but it’s a very fine line to walk when you talk about being proud of your group/community and being an exclusive group that doesn’t want change or different views and opinions.

I feel like Nationalism is something that can be good and bad. I feel like nationalism is something that can unite a group of people like it united the Indian peoples who wanted to end British colonization but it can also tear groups apart like we see in the Ghandi film. I wonder if we stopped grouping ourselves in this us vs. them mentallity, like we’ve talked about in class, if things would be easier and simpler to understand each other and our differences.