Film Review: Conflict Paradigm That Is Demonstrated

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¶ … conflict paradigm that is demonstrated in the New Heroes video regarding Kailash Satyarthi's work to end childhood slavery, not just in India but throughout the entire world. This sort of ruthless exploitation of child labor is merely a means to fuel the huge capitalist machine -- one of the principle proponents of which are consumers in the United States. However, that conflict itself is due to the fact that in a capitalist economy, it is necessary for a manufacturer to reduce costs in order to maximize profits. The most cost-effective means of production, therefore, in the minds of the corporations manufacturing many products in India such as rugs and soccer balls, to name a few, is to obtain free labor from slaves. Thus, slaves are regularly exploited and obtain nothing out of the bargain, whereas the manufacturer benefits -- as does the consumer, who is able to obtain products for less money than if the manufacturer had more costs to compensate for in making the products. The conflict is the lives and livelihoods of scores of innocent children vs. The capitalist machinery that thrives on them.

It is also quite interesting to note that such practices (of bonding children for the purposes of labor) have been outlawed in the U.S. Were they not, many people would more than likely be horrified and seek a political answer that could cure such a phenomenon. However, the fact that such an occurrence is taking place remotely and involving people who are not Americans appears to be a contributing factor in the fact that there are not massive strikes and demonstrations against products which do not bear the "rugmark," which is the symbol that a product has been created bereft of child slavery. Americans are willing to go the furthest extremes to ensure rights for all sorts of animals (dogs, cats, even cattle that will simply be slaughtered), but their compassion for those of remote nationalities is suspect.

There are certain elements of the ideological viewpoint of Manifest Destiny evinced in the New Heroes episode featuring Fabio Rosa's bringing of inexpensive electricity to the myriads of poor farmers in Encruzilhada. The social entrepreneur alluded to this fact himself when he briefly discussed how electricity changed the course of the modern world with its rapid advancements in the early part of the 20th century. One of the most valuable tools in aiding Rosa's work is his capacity as a visionary. He envisioned a society in which the idyllic farm settings that he grew up in could endure and prosper with cheap electricity, and he thought of a way -- of more than one way in fact -- in order to make that dream a reality.

In such a way, Rosa -- who is a farmer and a musician, not a scientist -- actualized some of the fundamental concepts of Manifest Destiny, which is essentially the belief that what one visualizes can become actualized, and that there is a proprietorial sense of ownership involved in accomplishing specific goals. Rosa realized the economic value of the change he conceived of for the poor farmers who could augment electrical power to increase their livelihoods, and strategized and worked to make that a reality. One may argue that westward movement that preoccupied the country during the duration of the 19th century in America was just such a manifest destiny.

There are also certain elements of this particular video in which it is clear that the media is portraying Rosa's struggle in a way that will give him mainstream exposure and further his cause. The initial moments of the video when he is playing a serene tune on the guitar in his gaucho outfit reinforces the notion that he is just a simple man with a simple dream that is admirable.

Issues of race and gender play a principle role in the work that Mimi Silbert is doing with the Delancey Street Foundation, particularly as it applies to the New Heroes video that details this organization. The criminal justice system, and state, local and federal jails in particular, are drastically overrepresented with minorities. It has long been an established fact, for instance, that although African-Americans make up less than one tenth of the population in the U.S., they comprise well over 50% of its prison population. These figures are only exacerbated when one factors in other minorities, particularly Latinos and Latinas.

These individuals are most at risk for becoming institutionalized within the criminal justice system. Ergo, Silbert and her foundation have specifically targeted them to help give them a means out of the cyclical institutionalization and crime that has routinely become a part of their lives. One of the most eminent aspects about this video is the lot in life that these minorities have endured, which certainly contributes to their statuses as criminal offenders and reflects the social inequality of America in general. In watching the video, individuals who are part of the Delancey Street program discuss the fact that they come from several generations of criminals in their family. Many of them are grossly undereducated (and cannot read), and have had financial issues all of their lives. These types of problems are the recipe for a lifetime of criminality without any such intervention. It is not in the best interest of the government to intervene and break this cycle for such criminals, because it profits from building prisons and the inexpensive labor prisoners perform while there. However, agencies like Delancey Street can provide that sort of intervention and give these people the skills they need to balance out the social inequalities that America has given them.

The New Heroes video about Inderjit Khurana's efforts to educate the children who congregate in train stations near Orissa, India has a lot of messages, but overt and subtle. Overtly, of course, this video is about the exploitation of children for a variety of purposes. Parents are exploiting them by sending them to the train stations to beg for money. Hardened criminals and unscrupulous adults exploit them by regularly recruiting them to work as teenage prostitutes or as drug runners. There are even gangs of children that work together to earn money by illicit means.

However, there are also implicit messages fueled by subtle cues in the video that attempt to undermine these overt ones. Khurana is a school teacher who is given no governmental assistance to educate children at these train stations. Yet she endures in this task anyway with publicly donated funds. Her form of education includes all of the traditional subjects such as math, history, and language arts. However, she teaches in unconventional means which are subtly revealed to the viewer through the video.

A lot of the teaching involves games, rituals, and active involvement on the part of the children, some of whom may be unaware of the fact that they are even learning formal academic subjects. There are fleeting shots of the children rapidly jumping around in a highly organized fashion, swaying together, and chanting things that may be perceived as nursery rhymes -- but which have a fundamentally didactic value. These images and sound bites are contrasted with the narration that readily discloses all of the monetary these children and even Khurana herself face in this exploitative economic situation. Yet it subtly gives the viewer a semblance of hope through the vicarious experiencing of this unconventional teaching that could help to save these children's lives.

There is an interesting dynamic that takes place within the New Heroes video regarding Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank and the ideological viewpoint of Social Darwinism. Social Darwinism has always posited that only the fittest individuals will be the ones to survive. That definition of fittest has grown from one that began based on physical fitness in ancient times… [END OF PREVIEW]

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