13 December 2010
When I think of the term Globalization I think of the cultures, economies, and the societies of many countries coming together and forming a super nation that strives to monopolize the world one day. In my view it is not a positive term and also not a good idea. As a result of globalization a country is at risk of losing its rich culture that the rest of the world recognizes it for. In Danny Boyle’s critically acclaimed film, Slumdog Millionaire, there are numerous examples of how the film itself as a whole, and individual parts, may be seen as a commentary for globalization. The whole city of Mumbai, India went from being a city of filth and slums to a city of commerce and progress. Whether this was a western influence is not a concrete fact from viewing the movie but I do definitely feel that western influences lead to the changes in the city and in the two brothers, Jamal and Salim. Through further analyzing of the film and several of the characters, it is evident that globalization has played a big part in their lives.
From the very start of Jamal’s childhood he learned to have a hero as shown in the scene when a young Jamal jumps in a pool of excrement to get an autograph from a famous Indian actor. The idea of his hero represents western influence as the actor clearly was not dressed in cultural clothes but in traditional American style clothes. This idea made the man more attractive to the Indian audiences making them believe that western is better. Also, after Jamal escaped the child abusers he comes across several Americans as tourists in India and is able to easily take advantage of them for money. This can be viewed as commentary that citizens from the world’s super power are so easily fooled by people of third world countries because they have a romanticized view of it. People in the United States cannot fathom having to live in the conditions as many of the people in Mumbai have to everyday yet they still visit these cities as if to admire history that is slowly fading into their own.
The young children are exposed further to western ideas as they grow and the city re-invents itself. As children, the city was a slum and over time becomes a powerhouse of construction of tall buildings in the place of the old town. They experience their memories being lost because of the city’s need to keep up with western technology. As they grow older the city becomes a host for call centers around the world. This is when Jamal is introduced to “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”
He works serving drinks and at the connecting call center there is a T.V. in which the show is watched by the entire office and everyone stops to frantically dial and get their chance to go from rags to riches. This show is obviously an American show that gave one the hope that with trivial knowledge one could join the realm of the rich and forget their troubles. This romanticized American concept crept in to many countries who followed suit after the show was made in America. Globalization has made it possible for things from the west to be taken eastward and emulated. The big melting pot of American values is unfortunately what reigns supreme when another country attempts to merge with it. Once it is done, it cannot be reversed for Globalization is a forward moving juggernaut. As evident in the film, the people of Mumbai went crazy over the show giving it this reverence as if it represented something they just could not reach.
In conclusion, the term Globalization is known to refer to the transnational circulation of ideas, resulting in the acculturation of those nations. Slumdog Millionaire, by Danny Boyle, certainly exemplifies that in many ways. As Jamal and his bother Salim are left motherless, they turn to the city to raise them. Because of all the western acculturation going on in Mumbai at the time the children are left with less than a sense of their country and more with the sense of wanting to be like an American. Through the use of the show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” as a tool for acculturation the citizens of the town are infatuated with the idea that riches can come overnight and hard work isn’t as important as history has shown it as exemplified by Salim working for town gangsters for easy money. Whether or not Globalization is in fact negative, as I believe it to be, Slumdog Millionaire makes it hard to prove me wrong.