What does a credit card offer you? On average you will receive between twenty and thirty credit card offers each year promising “free” money, points, and the freedom to buy what you want when you want. This sounds like a pretty good deal if you are a college student with a life time of debt, I mean spending, potential. What might be a good question to ask however, is if you have to give them anything in return, any freedoms, any dreams. In the movie Slumdog Millionaire, Maman’s orphanage is used to show how globalization offers a higher standard of living at the high cost of personal freedoms.
The issue of globalization is a multifaceted one that needs to be defined. Globalization according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is, “the act or process of globalizing : the state of being globalized; especially :the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets.” What this practically means is that the free market economy is incorporated by as many countries as possible and all the resources are added to the global market. Additionally, since some markets are going to be able to provide different resources for different prices they will, at least temporarily, go down as you purchase from that market that produces that product more cheaply. A great description of globalization is given in the essay Globalization and the Contemporary Development of Marxist Philosophy saying, “Simply speaking, globalization is a geographical concept, and it means global integration…but what is it that pushes and drives globalization? It is mainly capital. Globalization, above all, is the global and unitary operation of capital” (Kang Ouyang 645). Therefore, to be successful in this globalized market you must work to gain capital. To have status, you must have “things”, with all the vagueness that the word implies. It might be argued there is nothing wrong with wanting “things”, yet what cost do those come with. One might ask if this world view has negative implications and what would those look like?
Maman’s orphanage is a superb visual example of what globalization both offers and costs to those who embrace its precepts. Salim, Jamal, and Latika are on their own once their parents are killed. They have entered a globalized world and the must now provide for themselves. They are living in the trash dumps of the city with very little to eat. Mamon comes in the “orphanage” truck signifying security and safety. He then entices them and lulls them into security by giving them Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola’s was well known for being one of the first companies to truly achieve a globalized product. What these boys in this scene are being lured with this nothing less than the promised better life of globalization, in a bottle. When they arrive they are fed well and given much more food and toys than they had before they came to the orphanage.
This is the way it is with globalization. It promises the items of the nations of the world. It even promises lower rates for products of just about anything one could want. Yet, what does it do to the common worker and your home industries? They are able to get more things for cheaper, as long as they have a job. The catch at the orphanage in the movie is to be blinded and work for them, and so too the worker in the globalized world is left “blind”. They are totally dependant upon the system and its success, being placed where they are needed, if they are needed. Security in particular is sacrificed. The literal blindness in the film, of the children singers is translated into a figurative blindness of the future. This is talked about by Catarina Kinnvall when she writes, “The abstract character of modern society, with its implicit anonymity and alienation, has made the lives of more individuals migratory, ever-changing, and mobile as they are uprooted from their original social milieu” (Catarina Kinnvall 744). Once you accept the system and comply with its values and workings you are bound by its rules. If Jamal and Salim had been blinded they would no longer have been able to travel
Globalization offers a higher standard of living at the high cost of freedoms as is evidenced by Maman’s orphanage in the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Globalization itself can be defined as the spread of the free market system and a dependence on capital. It can then been seen in the film that Maman’s orphanage functions just like globalization as it offers increased food and items, yet ones very vision is reliant upon the system, and the people who are running the system, for guidance. This portion of the movie was a great visual mediation of an individual event that could be applied in many places around the world. Always remember that when you enter upon a financial commitment to ask yourself if you are truly getting something that adds to the vision you have for your life. Otherwise, it is simply going to keep you from it. So, when you receive that next credit card offer and the word free is staring you straight in the eyes. Tear it up and smile, for now you are truly free to live and dream.
Catarina Kinnvall. “Globalization and Religious Nationalism: Self, Identity, and the Search for Ontological Security.” Political Psychology Vol. 25, No. 5 (2004): 744. 9 Feb. 2010.
Kang Ouyang, Yumei Liu, Lingling Zhu. “Globalization and the Contemporary Development of Marxist Philosophy: Precondition, Problem Domain and Research Outline.” Frontiers of Philosophy in
Slumdog Millionaire. Dir. Danny Boyle. Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, 2008. DVD.