A Sham, a Shame, a Best Picture: The Globalization of Appeal, Pop, & A Slumdog
When the Danny Boyle directed film Slumdog Millionaire was released it became a feel good phenomenon. The thing is the film reeks of ethnocentric, commodity fetishised, and made in Hollywood exploitation. These issues are all disguised though by the appearances of brown faces. Everything about this film is an example and a result of the global gentrification we are subject to thanks to our consumption of pop culture. This film is not meant to be insulting and white privilege washed but everything from, director, concept, adapted screenplay, and the advertisement/publicity machine around Slumdog Millionaire says isn’t that good for the darkies. With a little money, education, influence and bootstrap pulling up the Indian community could be as good as those who direct and saw this movie. This is globalization the good, bad, and ugly of it all on the big screen making my mother-in-law cry and my mother happy she saw it and feeling even philanthropic than usual. This not to say there is not some good and well intentions behind the film, but it does has the word “slumdog” in its title, and even at the pinnacle of triumph of the film there are numerous shots of the of the ghettos and trash ridden streets of city. The main characters and subject matter can be universal, but the exploitative part of the tale is that it wouldn’t have the same appeal and epic cheer in a more developed city.
So globalization is usually recognized as being driven by a combination of economic, technological, socio-cultural, political, and biological factors. The term can also refer to the transnational circulation of ideas, languages, or popular culture through acculturation. An aspect of the world, which has gone through the process, can be said to be globalised (Sorrells 321). From the start the “Slumdog” was directed and produced all by a London based company. This in essence remind me of the history between London and India. British traders to trade with India formed East India Company. They set up warehouses to store the goods they traded in. The protection of these warehouses served as a good excuse to build forts and maintain armies at such centers.
During this time disorganized kingdoms were fighting amongst themselves. The British took the golden opportunity to benefit from these internal quarrels and helped one king against another. In this bargain the British gained more power and wealth. The British trained Indian soldiers and employed them in their army. This army was far better trained and disciplined than the armies with small Indian kings who were just struggling to survive. Gradually the British succeeded in capturing very large parts of India. They made treaties with kings who accepted the authority of the British. They were kings only in name. The British very cleverly managed to collect huge wealth from the people and the dignitaries (Wolpert). This continued tradition of global exploitation brings forth the idea everything old is new again.
From start to finish to there was only limited representation of the idea of what is meant to be Indian in India. However there was lots of focus on being impoverished and the great rescuer was the game show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” The focus of the Indian audience focused and obsessed on yet another global and distinctively non-Indian savior. Well for starters the twenty million rupees is in actuality $405,720.00 in U.S. currency but the global idea is the attention grabber. The original program originated in the United Kingdom, where a British born Chris Tarrant hosted it, and it first aired in the UK on 4 September 1998. In the 1990s, future Who Wants to be a Millionaire executive producer Michael Davies brought the show to the American Broadcasting Company and was hosted by Regis Philbin (Wostbrock & Ryan). The show and the movie have no real ties to traditional Indian entertainment but you’d never know that from the global appearance and feel of the movie. This film form start to finish was a global poster child to how India and Indians should be seen.
During the nineteenth century innovation that is so much a part of Indian life today became more apparent and waged a losing war against tradition. The impact of the West could be clearly seen in the beginnings of industrialization, adjustments of Hinduism to Christianity, and the organization of political nationalism. With Slumdog Millionaire the “adjustments” from the past are called a move toward globalization in a cinematic form.
Ryan, Steve, and Fred Wostbrock. The Ultimate TV Game Show Book: with a Tribute to Bill Cullen. Los Angeles, CA: Volt, 2005. Print.
Sorrells, Kathryn. “Globalization Intercultural Communication.”
Sage Publishing, 2010
Wolpert, Stanley A. India. Berkeley: University of California, 2009. Print.