Thanks to the Cousin, I had the pleasure of seeing Slumdog Millionaire this evening. Y’ know how everyone keeps saying the film is “beautiful” and “moving”? That’s because it is. No bullshit, fuck the hype. This movie was good and, I think, worthy of its Oscars. I already had a thing for Dev Patel (the actor that played Jamal), ever since I watched his early shit on British television (a teen drama called Skins), so my assessment may be partially influenced by a mini-crush on the lead actor, I admit. I think M.I.A. is a badass & her music is featured throughout the flick (I “think” she’s a badass, because I don’t know for sure; I can’t actually understand a lot of her lyrics and I don’t know a whole lot about Sri Lankan refugee culture, so my opinion is based on the music I’ve been exposed to and the whole Performing @ the Grammys While 9 Months Pregnant thing. I’m pretty convinced she can be described as a badass…). The story itself appealed to my faith in the resiliency of the human spirit. People can experience some fucked up shit, be constantly exposed to the worst aspects of humanity, and still find beauty, love, compassion for other human beings. That’s beautiful shit right there! That “what makes life worth living” stuff, I suppose. Slumdog Millionaire made my heart hurt, as it should, with it’s portrayal of the ravages of poverty. Real fucking poverty is painful acknowledge & children getting hurt /exploited is tough to stomach; I must have uttered “Oh, that poor baby!” under my breath dozens of times during the movie. It takes a serious yank to my heartstrings for that kind of maternal response to surface, so trust in the fact that this movie is properly described as “moving”.
My viewing of Slumdog Millionaire was quite timely, since a conversation about the film has sprung up in the blogosphere today, addressing the film from a social justice stand point and a feminist perspective. Mitu Sengupta has written an Alternet commentary, titled “Slumdog Millionaire: A Hollow Message of Social Justice” , in which he highlights the film’s “dehumanizing view of those who live and work within the country’s slums” and “disempowering narrative about the poor”. Prior to reading the article, I hadn’t noticed the way the movie did take on it’s subject with a paternal & colonial-esque manner, but…come to think of it… India was portrayed as a Third World nation of victims. I agree that “it [Slumdog]grossly minimizes the capabilities and even the basic humanity of those it so piously claims to speak for.” The way slum life is depicted is similar to the condescending way movies have tried to portray life in the modern broke-ass American family or the life of a child raised by substance abusers. Meaning: they’re always 100% negative situations, forgetting all the good shit, & make me think the writer/director/whomever has never even been poor/high/etc. so are unqualified to speak on the subject. I’m totally feeling the gist of that article. Although, I think Australia stunk of paternalistic storytelling much more than Slumdog. Hands down!
The character of Latika set off feminist spidey senses at Feministing.com & Samitha discusses it in Slumdog Millionaire wins Picture of the Year!. A similar argument is made here; that the movie depicts her as helpless and without agency. The discussion is continued at Bitch, PhD. (Samhita on Slumdog). There’s a pretty interesting Feministing Community post titled The Narrative of the Masculine Hero in Slumdog Millionaire and Kung-Fu Panda; Then, there are the Racialicious movie reviews: Perception Through the Lens of Slumdog Millionaire & You're The Man Now Dog: The Racialicious Review of Slumdog Millionaire. Controversial beefs with the movie are aired on the California NOW blog (The Slumdog Millionaire Controversy: Race, Class, Gender, and Colonialism), a needed reality check is delivered at Sacredcows.com (What ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ represents), and a film-geek offers praise at Season of the Bitch (Slumdog Millionaire).
While it is true that Latika and Jamal were way to pretty (hot, is the appropriate term, I think) & spoke in upper-class accents, we have to admit that movies do that kind of shit (the adjective “Hollywood” is synonymous with “fake”, right?). One gripe I did have with the movie that nobody else touched on was the closing scene. All that build up & that kiss? Weak! Maybe I’m just a perv, but I was expecting a way hotter embrace. On that note, I’ll take my leave from the subject.