Monday, May 13, 2013

World Text Analysis Essay

Well- here it is! My final draft of my final essay.

Michelle Rehberger
Professor Wexler
English 495ESM
13 May 2013
Globalization and Slumdog Millionaire
            Danny Boyle’s 2008 Academy Award winning film Slumdog Millionaire became an instant hit among critics for its unique structure and refreshingly original story. However, this film is more than just an enjoyable film to watch in one’s spare time. This film starts to engage and bring to light the issues of imperialism and globalization in third world countries. It shows the negative effects of the Western world in a way that most would overlook. The main character, Jamal, is accused of lying on a game show based off of the American show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”—another symbol of the  Western culture and the Western world. Through Jamal’s flashbacks from his childhood to the present, the audience gets a glimpse of how the Western culture has influenced their world in a not so positive way. The audience learns through these flashbacks how Jamal gained his knowledge in an unorthodox and non-educational way. By incorporating and meshing symbols of the Western world, director Danny Boyle starts to engage in a meaningful conversation about the effects of imperialism and globalization, however, Boyle does come up short by coping out to a happy Americanized ending instead of truly forcing the conversation to continue.
             The movie starts out with Jamal and his brother Salim running through their slum. Right from the start the audience knows that this movie is going to critique the third world country these kids are living in. The images of the slum from within are overwhelming, but it doesn’t just stop there. When the shot pans out and the audience gets to see just how far the slum expands, the audience can already see the remaining effects of globalism and imperialism. Randy Martin’s article, “Where Did the Future Go?” echoes the feeling of loss and surprise that the audience of a first world country feels. Martin describes the struggle for people to keep up with the present as the world continues to move and grow at such fast pace. Martin writes, “For the last twenty-five years those who might have been lulled by capital’s utopian chords have been subject to a rude awakening.” (Martin) While he is talking about the lasting effects of imperialism combined with the increasing importance on capital and how together they have crippled nations, the rude awakening he describes is something seen in the movie. All of the images of the slum throughout the film remind the audience and continuously give them rude awakenings. These kids won’t have the lives that the kids in America and other Western countries will have. They will make do with nothing and grow up with so much less, all because of imperialist nations using and abusing the countries they took over. Both Jamal and Salim will reflect on this after they grow up and see how different their lives are.
            There are so many scenes in which the movie offers a critique of imperialism but one of the most obvious ones is after Jamal and Salim have grown up and they look over their old slum. Jamal and Salim view their world in two distinct and different ways. Salim sees an opportunity for himself to exploit the city while Jamal is disgusted by his brother’s view. Jamal wants this place to become better than it is. Frederic Jameson’s article, “The Politics of Utopia” also offers insight into the way the characters view their world. Jameson writes that Utopia’s function, “lies not in helping us to imagine a better future, but rather in demonstrating our utter incapacity to imagine such a future—our imprisonment in a non-utopian present without historicity or futurity—so as to reveal the ideological closure of the system in which we are somehow trapped and confined”(Jameson 46). This relates to the movie and the viewer’s perspective because when you see these types of slums going to miles, it’s very hard to imagine a better future. It’s hard to imagine it getting better and going up from here. Jameson argues that people see Utopia to imagine a world that they want—to identify and fix the problems their world has.
            One of the larger problems Jamal has faced and overcome in his life is the way he has learned. The movie truly focuses on the way Jamal has gained knowledge. He did not go to school and learn from teachers. Every question he answers is an experience from his life. This is related to imperialism because the countries that abandoned their colonies left them with very little to go off of. The colonized civilizations were used for the advancement of capital, usually through slavery or some kind of collection of a raw material. The colonizers left the countries without much, especially in the line of education. Most people were slaves, so the lack of an education system is definitely a remaining influence of capitalism. While other countries were advancing technologically and educationally, these places were set behind. Jamal’s ability to overcome this gives the viewer of the movie hope. But where the movie misses the mark is where it doesn’t address the other children. Yes, Jamal made it. But how many of his friends did? How many of them died in slavery and sex trafficking? That isn’t to say that some people don’t survive—of course they do. But the problems still exist.
            Slumdog Millionaire really has a chance to send a message out to first world about third world problems. It has a great cast, a great director, and a great story but it just doesn’t go far enough. It could have done without the happy ending and the love story; however, maybe if it didn’t incorporate those into it people in the first world wouldn’t have been interested it in it and maybe it wouldn’t have garnered so much popular attention. While the movie did a good job in at least bringing up the issues of globalization and imperialism, it definitely could have gone further and made a stronger impact.

Works Cited
Jameson, Fredric. “The Politics of Utopia.”
Martin, Randy. “Where Did The Future Go?” Logosonline. Winter 2006. Web. 10 May 2013.
Slumdog Millionaire.  Dir. Danny Boyle.  Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, 2009.  DVD. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Final Blog Reflection

Well, this is it-- my final blog reflection. The semester has come to an end. It’s been a crazy semester and one that I am happy to say goodbye to, but I will also miss. I am graduating this semester and it’s slightly bittersweet because I have found all but one of my classes this semester to be so intriguing and fun. I’m not going to lie though, I am so happy to be graduating!

This class has been one of the bright spots for me this semester. I may be quiet and not say much in class, but I really have enjoyed our discussions and the jokes that came along with them. My favorite section/topic was myths. Even I am shocked to say this! I was not very interested in this part of the class and it turned out to be my favorite—along with the group project. I normally despise group projects because well…they’re group projects! I usually end up being the one who does the work and stresses about it. However this semester my group mates were amazing. The work was even (as even as I can be) and I think everyone was generally happy with the finished product. I thought our myth presentation was fun and informative. I loved “The Castle in the Lake” myth. It was so much fun and a great story. I love how we can see its influences in modern pop culture and throughout our lives. I also enjoyed the other myth presentations, especially the trickster myths. I think those were the most fun because again, we can see their influences today.

Another part of the class I enjoyed was how we related everything to media. It’s such a huge part of today and one of the conversations that I think is ignored. I don’t think our society likes to think about the consequences of media. We ignore the potentially negative affects it has on our society while only soaking up the good. That’s not to say I don’t think there are positives as well, I just think there isn’t a strong conversation on it in our society today. We readily accept Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram into our lives without even questioning it. I mean, there are so many bad things about them. One question I know that has been addressed to a small extent is whether or not Google and hyperlinking (and Twitter) affect the way we read. Can students/children even focus long enough to read a book? I know I personally have been affected by this. When I’m online all I do is skim, and it’s bled into my academic career. I try to stop it and force myself to go back but skimming is a first instinct for me. I mean, when we read articles they’re written so all you need to get the gist of it is the first two paragraphs and the last paragraph. You only need the middle information if you’re actually interested. That’s terrible! It’s the easy way out.

I think this class addressed media in a more positive way. We saw how it could benefit teaching and learning for students around the world. We saw haw media can give access to more people and how it can influence more conversations between different parts of the world. These are all so important especially in teaching. While I may not be immediately pursuing education, it is something I could go to in the future. I do tutor other students in writing so I can appreciate what we’ve gone over this semester. I think media is going to force teachers to become more technologically advanced which is better for them in my opinion. It opens up more opportunities for jobs and makes them more knowledgeable.  All in all I have enjoyed this class and I am very happy I took it. It was a breath of fresh air and was very engaging. Thank you all for a great semester and good luck in all of your future endeavors. :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rough Draft - World Text Analysis Essay

Hey everyone. Here is my rough draft of the World Text Analysis Essay. It's just the opening paragraph for now. I'm still gathering my ideas on this essay, but I feel like the intro will show whether or not I'm on the right track.

Michelle Rehberger
Professor Wexler
English 495ESM
6 May 2013
Globalization and Slumdog Millionaire
            Danny Boyle’s 2008 Academy Award winning film Slumdog Millionaire became an instant hit among critics for its unique structure and refreshingly original story. However, this film is more than just an enjoyable film to watch in one’s spare time. This film brings to light the issues of imperialism and globalization in third world countries. It shows the negative effects of the Western world in a way that most would overlook. The main character, Jamal, is accused of lying on a game show based off of the American show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”—another effect of the  Western culture. Through Jamal’s flashbacks from his childhood to the present, the audience gets a glimpse of how the Western culture has influenced their world in a not so positive way.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Reflection - Week of 4/22

We did not have class this week but instead had to watch Slumdog Millionaire on our own. I really enjoy this movie. It's put together very well. I admire the structure of the movie, which is through the use of flashbacks. Some movies have a hard time keeping the story straight with flashbacks but I feel like this one does not have those issues. While they are flashbacks, the flashbacks themselves are in chronological order. Aside from the structure, I feel this movie attempts to address some problems of globalization. Our country is much different than India is and the movie brings this differences to the surface. The one weakness I would say is that while the movie has a happy ending for the two main characters, it leaves the serious questions of globalization open ended. There is no solution for the problems in India-- just a happy ending for the characters. This seems like it is influenced from the Western culture. We like our happy endings and so the movie gives us one. But what about the orphans? The ones sold into slavery? It doesn't present a solution for this.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reflection - Week of 4/15

This week we had our group media literacy presentations. The assignment was to make a lesson plan/presentation to present to the class. We were to act as if they were our students and we were teaching them. I was in a group with Jovana and Evelyn. We had a pretty good idea, which was to show and teach our students how to create a website. The students would use this website to then complete an assignment that would be relevant to a current lesson plan. It was a little confusing/difficult because obviously the lesson would be what we were teaching, not what we would be teaching it for. I feel like this threw us off a little, but I think we had a good presentation anyway. We got a little flustered/jumbled when the professor said that the class wouldn't be going along and actually making the website with us. Knowing that, I think we could have presented it a little more effectively.

I thought the other groups had good presentations. A few of them didn't actually teach us anything, rather they talked about media literacy. I still think their presentations and information were good, just not what the assignment called out for.

Anyway, we do not have class next week but we need to view Slumdog Millionaire on our own time. I'm excited the movie was switched to this one because I love that movie! I remember when the movie came out I worked at a movie theater and I didn't know much about it, but my mom convinced me to go see it (free movie tickets!). It was definitely worth it, and it deserved all of the awards it won. It really keeps you interested and it brings up some critical issues as well. I'm excited to watch it again.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Reflection - Week of 4/1 & 4/8

Well we didn't have class last week and this week so I don't have much to reflect on. I've been working on the presentation we have on Monday and it's going pretty well. I'm in a group with Evelyn and Jovana. Jovana has been working very hard to get us all on the same page. She was texting both Evelyn and myself to coordinate our sections of the presentation. Hopefully it goes well on Monday. I wish we had a little more time to go over it in class, but I think we can pull it off. :)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Reflection - Week of 3/25

The projector was working this week, so Ali and I were able to present our lesson to the class. But first, we got to make new groups for our next presentation. I got paired with Evelyn and Jovana, which I think is awesome. They both did very well with their myth presentations so I think we'll put together a great presentation. The only bad part is...we don't have class until the presentation. I live so far away so it's very hard for me to meet up in Northridge. I also work every day of the week so I can't meet up early/late.Hopefully though, we can get together sometime during the week in between our other classes and at least go over what we have. And of course, there's always email and texting.

I think our myth presentation went well. I don't think we hit the 30 minute mark, but there were only two of us presenting versus the other groups of three. I think we did very well relating Sacred Places to current times and pop culture. For me, when I can relate something to myself or something I've experienced, it makes it much easier to grasp, so I hope that's what we did. Professor Wexler seemed to like that aspect of it, so that was great.

Well... we have the next two weeks off! See ya later!