"i am not a slumdog"

recent winner of four Golden Globes and several other cinematic accolades, Slumdog Millionaire, apparently has been facing much criticism and protest by Indians and related social activists. the new york times digs deep to discover the roots of this backlash by seeking the opinions of Indian intellectuals. Their comments, that that of the NYTimes readers, are quite interesting. I have yet to see the film (admittedly, I live under a rock), but I can't help but empathise with those who may find this film as "poverty porn," much like several depictions of "African" everyday life by the West....the "experts," however, seem to diasgree...

update january 2010: last year I did manage to watch the film (thank you HBO OnDemand). And by the end of the film, I *almost* cried...I'm a sucker for romance...sue me.

13 comments:

  1. nneoma said...:

    so after reading thru some of the comments, I stumbled upon this review

    http://greatbong.net/2008/12/29/slumdog-millionaire-the-review/

  1. SOLOMONSYDELLE said...:

    Its weird. I am yet to watch Slumdog even though I probably will eventually.

    Re: poverty porn, I have trouble watching many films depicting 'Africa'. They seemingly always portray a powerless people liberated by a blond, blue eyed Caucasian. I find that storyline (which has been recycled to death by the way) disappointing. However, until we begin making our own films that portray us the way we want to be portrayed, we will continue to see poverty porn or whatever else is out there.

    Hope all is well.

  1. KG said...:

    I haven't watched the movie either but I may get to it sometime in the future. I've been very bewildered as to the film's popularity too. They'll probably win that Best Pic Oscar tonight neways.

    Nneoma, read the expert views and the blogger. I had a good laugh reading the blogger's views. I have to say, I can see where both sides are coming from although the natural-born rebel in me (and of course the 3rd world siege mentality) is very much with the poverty porn depiction. I love that phrase!...lol. The experts meanwhile have to validate the film so as to look Western no? It's all about affirming their intellectualism.

    Solomonsydelle, you're very right. That storyline will forever be recycled to death especially as it perpetuates the belief that the Africans need never-ending rescuing by the 'superior' Caucasians which serves to give them an excuse to belittle the slavery legacy and on and on it goes...

    I've seriously tried to refrain from watching these kind of movies cos they just make me so mad. I'd rather watch Madea goes to jail. Anyone going to see that? =)

  1. Omo Oba said...:
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  1. Omo Oba said...:

    It doesnt help that I havent seen slumdog either so I cant say an awful lot on it but Solomonsydelle leaves an interesting comment --- and my question is could it be that we are victims of ourselves here? Are we portrayed as powerless people because our leaders leave us as crippled? and needing the help of a Western savior? Ask the orphans in the village of kisoro in Uganda and they will tell you that when the white men come, they bring immediate help and assistance for their hunger and suffering.

    KG, I hope Madea goes to jail is not disappointing, let me know how you find it:)

  1. KG said...:

    Omo Oba, yup I'll let you know when I finally watch it. Might not be till next week tho. I need a good laugh.

    As for your comment regarding the savior phenomenon; yes there's no doubt that our leaders share a huge chunk of the blame but the point is the imbalance was set up that way from the very beginning and the continent is having trouble overturning that balance. Some countries more than others have managed to dilute the imbalance faster than others but it is still there.

  1. Uzezi said...:

    havent seen the movie, i just have to so i can have my own take on it, but i really dont like Africa portrayed poorly. the western world have reported us negatively for too long. all the devoloping countries do have very positive things going on too. unfortunately those who can help us portray these sides, are helping damage us.

  1. Artsville said...:

    I seem to be the only person here that has seen the movie and I absolutely agree with greatbong, it is so overrated. I will admit that it was a good movie,but there were so many things that just got me thinking whaaaaaat? the inconsistencies in accents, the often unneccesary long scenes, the very tired cliches etc. But Nneoma has said it,slumdog millionaire is being celebrated because of the poverty pun. The west gets a kick from seeing the slums, the hatred, the poverty etc of Africa and Asia.

    I do not agreet with solomonsydelle though, whether Africa or Asia do their own films portraying what they want to, the West will always do these kind of filma every now on then. As greatbong put it,it's clever filmmaking and it's a huge money market. Afterall India and Nigeria do their own films telling their own stories.

  1. Moody Crab said...:

    I've seen the movie and I have to say it is not a case of perpetuating images of poverty and misery. There was no caucasian riding into the slums to save the poor. It was simply a movie about fate/destiny, reality and sucess.

    The movie was shot in the slums so what? It is the way it is. It is real life! We should stop berating the film makers about depicting reality. There was no distortion. I've lived in India and I've worked in the slums in Delhi and Trivandrum (likewise in the villages). It is EXACTLY the way it was depicted in the movie. And just like the movie, people make it out of there sucessful; some through dogy means, some through hardwork and others just FATE.

    So what is wrong in showing it to the world? The truth (sometimes reality) is bitter but should we gloss it over because of that? Let's tell it the way it is and that's exactly what Slumdog Millionaire was about.

  1. Obla yoo said...:

    I watched the movie this weekend, and I thought it was good. I dont know a whole lot about India, but the movie portrays scenes and some events that I can totally see happening in Accra. It's a movie, and the likelyhood of everything working together the way it did is somewhat slim (I think), but I also think it was a realistic, if not necessarily flattering of one section of Mumbai.Perhaps insulting,but maybe also honest.

  1. nneoma said...:

    wow this has been an interesting conversation, and I would like to point you all to the debate happening on Obla yoo's blog who is of a differing opinion of mine (wait, did that make sense, that is the grammar....anyway). the link is http://oblayoo.blogspot.com/

  1. nneoma said...:

    @SSD - everything is going well. thanks for asking. still with you on that one...watching it is on my to do list. We are making our own films which though of questionable quality, they are widely devoured by a greater African audience. And also Bollywood, which is being marketed to a greater world audience makes its own films. With Bollywood and Nollywood being the 2nd and 3rd largest movie industries, I am quite satisfied. So, those facts are quite comforting.

    @KG - you bring up an interesting point as to why the "experts" seem to almost validate the Western views. Why is it that the non-experts (the commonfolk) don't agree with them. It brings up the question of whether we do indeed want the experts speaking for us (you know, the phenomenon of having spokesperson for the race, ie the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world). How come the West doesn't have a spokesperson?

    @Omo Oba - my response is in your post about Slumdog Millionaire

    @Uzezi - I feel like anytime you make a comment on my blog, its like you haven't been here for a while, but it was just a few posts ago that I welcomed you back...anyway....there is an interesting article on this by Uzodinma Iweala (yeah, Iweala of World Bank's son) in response to the "I AM AFRICAN" campaign...a campaign which annoyed the ergggh out of me here is the link...http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/13/AR2007071301714.html actually I am going to post this.