"We Will All Laugh at Gilded Butterflies" --Shakespeare

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Globalization and Slumdog Millionaire: A Taboo Misrepresented

Has the Western world really interfered with other countries? We seem to have poverty around parts of the world, yet there still is a McDonald’s around the corner of these many impoverished countries. How far has the so called “American Culture” reached its hand to other countries? Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle and written by Simon Beaufoy, is a story of a young boy, Jamal who endures great amounts of pain so that he can “win” a million dollars. In reality, he wants to “win” publicity and fame in order to be seen and found by Latika, the third musketeer and his true love who was left behind. Yet, is that the basis of the film? Is the “Hollywood romantic film” being displayed or is it much more than that? A film shot in Mumbay, a poor and indigent city in India, Slumdog Millionaire portrays the exploitation of children through labor and the misconduct found between individuals of the same nation. The film not only traces the life of a young boy who inexplicably suffers to find his mistress, but also explores the ways in which the Western culture has been so distant from other worlds that the idea of globalization has become a taboo and misrepresentation to a culture like that of the Indian one in Slumdog Millionaire.

As portrayed in the film, the Western world has been misrepresented in the Indian culture. At the beginning of the film, viewers are introduced to a Jamal, a very confident and strong character who will do almost anything to get to where he wants. However, he is brainwashed with the “Indian Hollywood” or as they would call it “Bollywood.” Jamal shows this by his passion for the famous Indian pop star Amitabh Bachchan. Amitabh is displayed on the screen as a very important character because everyone who sees him reacts very positively. This is a direct connection with the Western pop world. In the United States, any one of Hollywood’s figures are seen as idols and almost worshipped. If anyone sees them, it is as if they saw a God and cannot believe their eyes. Jamal shares this same passion in the movie by a very important scene. When Jamal goes to the cubicle or “restroom,” his luck betrays him because at that moment, Amitabh shows up in town. All the children leave everything behind and run to see Amitabh in order to get his autograph. However, Jamal’s brother, Salim, being annoyed and jealous from his younger brother, locks him inside the cubicle. Jamal finds himself in the middle of the cubicle with sewage under his feet as the only place to escape from (the only space in the cubicle for him to get out from). Desperate to reach Amitabh and motivated to do ANYTHING to reach him, Jamal dives into the manure puddle with the picture of the pop star left intact. Covered with “muck,” Jamal runs toward Amitabh and asks for his autograph. Everyone turns and laughs at Jamal for extremely malodorous. Now, is it natural for a child at the age of eight to step in a puddle of muck ONLY to get an autograph from a Bollywood star? The same notions are seen in the United States. People stand in line for hours in the sunlight just to watch a rock band on stage. There was once in December when I was in Hollywood, and I saw people tented outside the amphitheater with blankets and umbrellas, sitting and sleeping on the sidewalk. I was confused at first because I seriously thought Jesus Christ was about to show up, and I did not get the newsletter! When I rechecked, there was a Coldplay concert that was going to show in the next 24 hours and people were tented outside in the cold for a whole day so that they could get the seats they wanted. The same case was evident in Slumdog Millionaire, but is this what people call globalization?

If many want to argue that globalization is the direct advancement of a western world and its culture, then I would like to disagree. The whole idea of westernization equating to globalization has been misrepresented as something that is not really factual. In his article, “Toward a Critique of Globalcentrism: Speculations of Capitalism’s Nature,” Fernando Coronil argues that globalization is the following:

…an intensified manifestation of an old process of transcontinental
trade, capitalist expansion, colonization, worldwide migrations, and
transcultural exchanges, and that its current neoliberal modality
polarizes, excludes, and differentiates even as it generates certain
configurations of translocal integration and cultural homogenization

Coronil also argues that the “mass media have been a major avenue for the celebratory discourses of globalization” (352). If the whole idea of globalization is basically because of the media, then is it worth it for a child to soak himself in a pile of poop because of the image Hollywood conveys to the world. However, the message is bigger than this- the Western world has the idea that they have to dominate the entire world and make them all “American.” This notion came about in the 1920s with the term "Manifest Destiny." What is the Western culture representing? If globalization is really a set of worldwide exchanges, homogenizations, and migrations, as Coronil argues in the latter citation, then why is there child abuse in other nation as in Mumbay, India?

Obviously, the Western idea of globalization has been a distortion in other impoverished countries like India. Child abuse and child labor are the first strings of this supposedly technologically advanced yet misdemeanant globalization. Simon Gikandi, author of “Globalization and the Claims of Postcoloniality,” says that “globalization lies precisely in its claim that culture, as a social and conceptual category, has escaped ‘‘the bounded nation-state society’’ and has thus become the common property of the world” (641). If globalization is a so called universal culture, then how can there be child labor in other parts of the world but there is close to none in the United States? I lived in Beirut, Lebanon for many years, and although, it is an improved and globalized country, there are still many parts of it that are very deprived. One time, I saw a Muslim mother sending off her theoretical “disabled” children into the streets to sell boxes of gum for triple the amount in any supermarket. Yet, these children were wise because they would walk on the freeway selling gum during traffic hour and talk about their unfortunate lives. While they sold gum, they would also beg for change. One could not help but give them money because at some point either they have nagged so much that any person wants them to be quiet, or their story was so moving that the victim really thought these children were ill. This same case is predominant in Slumdog Millionaire when the children (orphans) are literally picked up from the streets, manipulated by a certain clan, brainwashed that they are to be cared for, and finally enslaved by either having them sing blinded or holding babies to show that there are poor young mothers. The film might be an invention by the directors, but they are taken from real, true stories that occur in many of these countries all around the world.

Taking the latter examples into consideration, how can anyone conclude that globalization is the universal cultural experience? How can one decide that it is Westernization? Globalization has been defined as so many different elements, that it has become a taboo and misrepresentation to many countries and groups of people. There no longer is one set of rules for the term, rather a different outcome for each culture. That is what makes a country, its mother country—the set of its OWN traditions rather than a universal culture that is a “common property of the world.” Slumdog Millionaire tries to portray a country that is filled with actions and behaviors that we do not see nowadays in the United States. It is a film that opens us to a world of different worlds by exploring the events behind human behavior and showing how money can make one cheat, abuse, lie, steal, and even betray the ones closest to him.

Works Cited

Coronil, Fernando. "Toward a Critique of Globalcentrism: Speculations on Capitalism's Nature" Public Culture 12.2 (2000): 351- 374. Print.

Gikandi, Simon. "Globalization and the Claims of Postcoloniality" The South Atlantic Quarterly 100.3 (2001): 627- 658. Print.

Dir. Boyle, Danny. Slumdog Millionaire. Beaufoy, Simon. Prod. Christian Colson. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2008.

Please watch video, you may have to be directed to Youtube because the embedding is disabled!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Globalization: Existential?

Just as in the articles, these two pictures show opposing views of globalization. Is there really such a great clash that all the world will turn to two hands controlled by the same entity? Or is it a "Ah, Globalization?" issue where we really do not know what it is, yet we are bombarded by the word every single day (just as the windows are being bombarded by the earth). In both articles by Gikandi and Coronil, they argue that globalization is a term that is used not only to bring people together, but to unite them under a common culture. It is not a neccesarily Western Culture but a Universal one where each country is a clash of many other coutries combined. Honestly, I disagree and in my final essay, I will attempt to show why I disagree and how globalization has turned into a word that is so misrepresented in other countries, that it has become almost taboo and unknown. So, does globalization even exist?

Coronil, Fernando. "Toward a Critique of Globalcentrism: Speculations on Capitalism's Nature" Public Culture 12.2 (2000): 351- 374. Print.

Gikandi, Simon. "Globalization and the Claims of Postcoloniality" The South Atlantic Quarterly 100.3 (2001): 627- 658. Print.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Media Literacy Project

Note: This is an entire collaborative group work.
Group: Diana, Laura, Andra, Mark, and Karine

English Senior Assignment

Properly Documenting Sources with Various Means of Media using MLA Format

This assignment will help to prepare you for future assignments in college. In college, you are expected to write various papers and essays that require outside sources in addition to the primary text that will further support your thesis. It is imperative to make sure your secondary sources are credible. We will be conducting our research via internet on our assigned reading Of Mice and Men. Additionally, please refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers to properly cite your sources.

1). Find a website on Salinas California. In 250 words answer the following questions:
• Write a summary about what you found, and how this furthers your understanding of the primary text, Of Mice and Men.
• Is the website you chose to conduct your research credible? Why do you think it is a reliable source?
• Make a works cited page following the MLA guidelines documenting your secondary source.

2). Find an interview with John Steinbeck and/or with a leading scholar or critic relative to Steinbeck’s writing.
• Write a summary on what you found in the interview that helps you come to better understanding of Steinbeck. Why is this relevant, and how can this be applied to Of Mice and Men?
• Is the website you chose to conduct your research credible? Why do you think it is a reliable source?
• Make a works cited page following the MLA guidelines documenting your secondary source.

3). Find a YouTube clip or scene in the movie adaptation that applies to Of Mice and Men. If you decide to use a scene from the movie version, please conduct your research by means of the internet.
• Compare and contrast your initial impression Of Mice and Men to your findings on YouTube or movie version.
• Summarize the scene you chose in the YouTube clip or scene from the movie adaptation. Be sure you are able to locate it in the book.
• Make a works cited page following the MLA guidelines documenting your secondary source.

4). Find a scholarly journal with an article that applies to Of Mice and Men. Please use the following website: JSTOR. This is an excellent source that has credible journal articles.
• In 250 words, summarize the article. How can it be applied to a research paper you are conducting?
• Make a works cited page following the MLA guidelines documenting your secondary source.

5). Write a short reflection on conducting research on the internet. Please include the following:
• In conducting your research, did you come across any unreliable sources? If so, how do you know they are not credible?
• What did you find interesting about this assignment?
• Do you feel comfortable using technology to conduct research?

Note: The purpose of this assignment is to let students understand different forms of media and also prepare them for college paper writing. It is a great way to get students to find credible sources and also put them together and find the most important points behind them. The project keeps students aware, focused, and also having a little bit of "fun" while they explore different media in order to find the infotmation they need.

Reflection of Media Literacy Projects
Edgar Allen Poes, "The Tell Tale Heart"

This short film gives a visual appeal to the story's mysteries and emotions. The "eye" becomes something much more than just an eye to gaze and look out. It turns into an ambiguous sign, a symbol that signifies a haunting and gothic setting. Yet, the films job is not to limit the possibilities rather engage the audience, the high school students, and interest them to pull the symbols in the story apart. That way, the students WANT to know more about the text rather than just be obligated by a certain curriculum.

Myth: Sacred Places

Sacred Places:

• Have the power to heal the human body, raise enlightenment and creativity
• Places such as Pearl Harbor, Gettysburg, Egyptian pyramids, and Stonehenge in England are sacred because they provide a location that represents nationhood, individual identity, culture, and historical unity.
• Around the world sacred places can be actual places. It is a literal location where you can go visit, stand on, look at, and know that you are in the place.
• They are also mythical because they become symblic of and embody meaning of their cultural values.
• Thay are also imaginary places, where the place is imagined to be far more than any place can possibly be. The sacred site, which is somewhat abstract, becomes real because of its connection with its real place, the real place that we can see, and remember.

Andrew Guilliford’s 9 Categories of Sacred Places

• Specific to describe historical events and spiritual pratices of American Indian sacred places.

Vine Deloria’s 4 Categories of Sacred Places

• Although Deloria’s categories of sacred places also focus on Native American culture, Deloria’s categories differ from Guilliford’s 9 categories of sacred places because they are open-ended enough to be applied to sacred places around the world.
• These 4 categories are arranged on a scale of “agency” which is a hierarchy from “entirely human agency” to “Higher Powers”
• The first category is “entirely human agency” which is when the site is sacred because of the human events that occurred there, for example Pearl Harbor and Ground Zero, the location of the descruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
• The second category, is “deeper, more profound,” a place that becomes sacred because “the sacred, or higher powers have appeared in the lives of human beings.” An example of this is Prometheus, a greek god, who stole fire from the gods to give to humans for survival.In the second category, there is an interaction between the human and the divine .
• The third category is when “Higher Powers” are no longer unseen, and “have revealed themselves to human beings.” An example that Deloria provides an example from the Old testament which is when Moses speaks with the Burning Bush.
• Deloria’s fourth category is allowing the presence of new sacred places which are sacred due to the changes or circumstances of the present day.

Sites of Fear and Longing

• Sites of Fear are sacred because they dramatize our fears of the inevitable, including death, aging, disease, and weakness. These places are reminders of human mortality.
• Sites of Longing are sacred because they dramatize the longing for comfort and security, and rejuvenation, and make immortality seem possible. A peaceful place such as a garden, forest, lake or fountain.

How to Read Sacred Place Myths

• Consider the type of myth being presented
• Myths of Sacred Waters
• Myths of Sacred landforms (mountains, canyons)
• Myths of Sacred trees, forests
• Myths of Magic Realms

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Melody in Nightmare Aisle (Free Verse poem)

Your Lips sealed in my head, eyes blazing red
with sporadic green spots—
You left me with Them, mama.
Their bodies smeared on mine like the devil’s sick gushing into velvet red lava.
You wouldn’t help me, mama.
Too busy with your down to earth tomatoes,
and your neatly—two neatly—picked hands,
No, mama—Disgusting.
Chopping away every slice of parsley as if ripping my hope with the pieces that fell
like a thin whisper, a deep THUD.
You left and shattered me into broken glass,
Do you love me?
You don’t…Yes I do…No, you don’t!
You left me with Them to rot at the end of my own umbilical cord
the moment you wandered out the door.

with a deep rosary in your hand looking at me with red eyes
like God’s devil wanting me to end you,
You left me alone, mama,
in the little corner of that stifling kitchen
where your teapots were utterly aligned
but your heart—a disaster.
You left me with Them that day in mid- June, mama.
As you walked out the door, I left the shining teapot hanging from the ceiling
like your heart that hung from my unreachable life.
I left the pots and pans, the grease on the floor, the slick edge of your conscience.
I left the ghostly clatter that filled my mouth with woes and booze.
I left Them all to you, mama,
but you never came back.

No Stains on the Underwear (Sound Integrated Poem)


Destroy the world in so many ways:
Crack a bomb, break legs, explode some schooners, and then
make your enemy devour the little pieces while scraping his tracheas’
inner membrane, bleeding in hatred, spitting mucus
around the ground-- disarray, disarray.
That’s one way you could have broken my life.

Instead, in a moment?
Drinks with friends.
High on Speed.
A little corner--
his vomiting breath squeezing against your pelvis.
Squeal for mercy, enjoy your god forsaken moment and wait a whole month
with fear building under the flies in your stomach
just to know…

There are no stains on the underwear.

Two months pass.
Your belly starts growing the more you endure starvation--
No one can know. No body has to know.Rejection: family, friends,
even the one who committed this crime.

Nine months of manipulative aches as you hold your spine
while standing like a ninety year old woman
with wobbling legs.
The day you give birth, you assemble yourself, blaring at the top of your cellars. The walls engulfing you are as bare as your soul
that delves in your unborn child--
a tomb decaying with anguish.


Three days later,
a royal elephant starts hiding in your child’s room.
The toy for your infant fades in disguise and
then, you hold your baby,
weep in the night,
snuggle under the trash bin,
give a bitter, cold kiss on your child’s cheeks--
oblivion to abandonment.
You leave it there,
sprint a trail of tears.
Each one pounds on the steps it cracked,
and you never come back.


Fifteen years later— he is
grown up, hair shining like his father who produced him under Speed.
Eyes blazing blue like his mother’s azure face that shot in the cellar.
The Child agonized with hesitation,
filled with panic and anxiety.
Why did you harm Him?

I am wandering,
escaping between
the scorching lines on my face or
under the crippled fake smile.
I am a beautiful lie.
You made me:
organs attached to each other like an angel clinging to God.
I wish you had pushed glass down my throat and told me you loathed me so much that my own face appalled you.
Instead, you threw me away.


Wherever you are,
your soul rots inside me—lost, defiant, naked.
Your eyes blaze with tears,
and your mouth, oh your mouth…
I fake it, but
every night, I scrape your mouth
with my bloody knives as
I glance at your pelvis sucking against his belly
in your previous pleasure,
in my
bottomless, ceaseless dreams.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Flying Japan

Think of a title- a name, a city, a place.
Just a name,
they say.

Your heads flips round and round as you try
to gather the edges of your polished brain
oozing like the grease stuck on the bottom of a frying pan- yellow mucus splitting the edges.

Come up with a name, come up with a name.

Your fingers trembling with torment as twenty- five pairs of eyes haunt you in your day like hollow spoons eating your guts.
The sweat arousing from under your eyebrow falls to the floor with such simplicity that it enters the sides of the cement’s cracks and fills a giant space- a hollow galaxy only flowing with imaginations.

God damn it, one freakin’ name!

Now, your feet quiver like the swooshing wind that hits the window of your car when you leave it a little open under the storm.
Bedlam fills your stomach- hot blazing summer in mid-December.
Your eyes twitch every three milliseconds, your mind jolts as it breaks, and your mouth trembles with abhorrence- a melancholy bleeding and only visible to the veins of your body.

Jesus Christ just say anything!

He comes close, looks straight into your fuming eyes, tells you to bawl out loud, not be afraid.

You finally scream:
I killed them, I killed them all when I was Flying in Japan.