Irony…brought to you by globalisation

I guess Stalin (or whoever really said it) was partially correct (“A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic”) but sometimes we in the West (especially our Vanguard…Hollywood) just go too far.  Can we really make a movie about a single WHITE family and all their suffering in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which claimed in the neighbourhood of 280,000 lives, the vast preponderance of whom were NON-WHITE?

Try watching that trailer in a cinema in Thailand. Not fun, I can assure you. The sheer disbelief on the faces of my fellow movie-goers was humbling. Talk about strategic narratives. Just another brick in the ‘why do they hate us’ conundrum for most people, I am sure.

The toll of the tsunami still lingers across the entire region…in economic losses, but, more profoundly, in human trauma. The fact that a holiday was ruined is ludicrously insensitive by comparison. Shame on us.


Thanks to the great comments below.  They warmed the cockles of my heart, really.  And now just for you, another YouTube video to watch:



15 thoughts on “Irony…brought to you by globalisation

  1. R James says:

    1. Errm…you haven’t seen the film.
    2. It’s a film. “we” didn’t make it. It was made as a revenue generating business project headed by a film studio with multiple investors.
    3. It’s a film of a true story focussing directly on a white (sorry, WHITE) family. It’s not a true story focussing directly on the terrible plight of several hundred thousand non-white (sorry, etc) South Pacific islanders. That would be a different film. Of a different book. Feel free to make that film if you wish. Or write that book.
    4. It doesn’t care for “strategic narratives”. Only you do. More fool you. It’s not its business to care. It’s disinterested. See point 2.
    5. I don’t believe that you saw many of the faces of your fellow cinema goers.
    6. I don’t feel the slightest shame. So please don’t include me in your “us”.
    7. Just to remind you, you haven’t seen the film.
    8. Conundrums, even lazy fantasy ones, are not built from bricks.

  2. W4rlord says:

    Same here like above. WE should not and must not be ashamed for EVERYthing people from our cultural heritage does. Not that I have too much common with “”WHITE”” anglosaxon actors , or with Hollywood liberals in general.

    Making a film which hurts somones’ feelings is not a drama, is not an insensiblity, or lack of compassion. The company which made the decision the buy and show the film in that areas is much more responsible. But that should not be our problem too.

    The tragedies of the 20th century do not affect everybody equally. Brazilian films or telenovellas usually do not have the slightest reference to either world wars, or to industrial genocides, and I presume the few african made films are also bereft of the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis or the Cold War in general for example.

    I know eastern european peacekeepers who were called colonialists while serving in Africa. Even after they revealed their home countries which never had any colonies, they were told, you are still white.

    So let us please get over with this $hit, and try to find out qui prodest?

  3. Madhu says:

    Well, I’ve only seen this trailer so FWIW:

    There is nothing inherently wrong with choosing to tell the story of white privileged family. Any story is ripe for artistic interpretation and the devil is always in the details, the execution. Human tragedy has many faces and great art of both the East and West is filled with examinations of high and low, all with artistic value.

    However, based only on this trailer, the film–or its trailer–lacks depth, lacks a kind of sense of history, or any specific cultural cues.

    It could be any sort of disaster thriller meets human survival interest story. That is Hollywood’s current sin, its inability to think textured thoughts, to present big budget fare with any sort of depth to it. It once did this, in its great age, its visual language built more than spectacle, it built meaning.

  4. Madhu says:

    There is a great essay on just this topic in the Atlantic I think, something about Lucas or Star Wars killing movies or something like that. I love Star Wars but the essay is a wonderful read. Darn it, I usually bookmark things and I didn’t mark that essay. I’ve got to find it, it’s fabulous.

    • Madhu says:

      Not a bro, Ed (the real one) :).

      Not a white, even.

      Normally wouldn’t mention such things but skin color appears to be the main lens through which I am to view a tepid and bland Hollywood trailer about a truly horrific event. Perhaps as an American of Indian origin there are some aspects of British (or UK based) academic life that escape me?

      Isn’t the entire tenor and subject of the post itself potentially very “first world problems”?

      I felt bad, we are bad, look at us, first world problems….where are the Thai people and their tragedy except as a backdrop to your experience and discomfort?

      My original point in my original comment (which I put very badly, sorry about that) is that the trailer seems curiously incurious about the larger tragedy within which the particular family story is embedded.

      That is what I meant by poor execution. The actual film may be different. Haven’t seen it, can’t judge.

      Anyway, individual human life is precious and it was more than a vacation or holiday being disturbed from my take away of the film. I take it that one of the children went missing from what I saw? Did I get that right?

      That is a human tragedy whenever it happens and plenty worthy of artistic explanation. Children are innocent. Are we to judge a child entirely by the accident of birth, so that we should have no feeling for the stories of children if we don’t approve of their background for whatever reason?

      Wish I had known that when rotating through my original forensic medicine rotation as a medical resident all those years ago. I wouldn’t have bothered carrying these images with me all these years. First world problems, not to be bothered with, sorted by skin pigment.

      Yes, other children went missing too. A strong artistic choice would be to segue from the one child missing to the many that went missing, so there I can see criticism being valid.

      But just as a post about a Hollywood trailer (itself a potentially vapid and First World starting point) can illuminate larger issues of strategic influence and feeling, potentially a story about a privileged family caught up in the tsunami could be a starting point in discussing the larger human and economic issues.

      The main problem isn’t skin color or the discomfort of a Westerner in watching a film clip while abroad.

      I always get nervous when people start talking about skin color as a reason to dismiss individual human experience.

      PS: The essay I was talking about is David Denby’s “Has Hollywood Murdered the Movies? How the richness of technology led to the poverty of imagination. ”

      Anyway, have rambled too much. Half agree and half disagree so that’s probably the reason for the rambling.

    • Ed (the real one) says:

      The essence of your previous comment was “I read some article which I haven’t bothered to find and link to”. That was a great story, for which we are all (or at least I am) immensely grateful.

      Now it transpires you are commentating about a film which you have not seen. The point of my previous, and also this, comment, was to urge you not to whitter.

    • Ed (the real one) says:

      I ask someone to modify their behaviour a little. You go for a personal insult. Which of us do you think is closer to “Be sensible, be polite”?

    • David Betz says:

      Your comment to Madhu was gratuitous and snide. I said you were being a jerk because your words paint you as being one. I ask you, please, to stop being a jerk here. Thank you.

  5. Quintin says:

    Well, there is a narrative – perhaps not a strategic narrative, but at least a cultural one then with a potential (and propensity) for strategy. And I agree that the movie was in all probability not made to contribute to that narrative, but contribute it does.

    That said, I think it would be a great shame if this narrative was to be misinterpreted in any way with respect to this movie. Based purely on my own experience (as a Plain Old Western Observer) of this event, how can a disaster that had occurred eight years ago, be re-introduced into the awareness if it has to compete with the current economic climate, the wars, the elections, the paedophile presenters, the double mastectomies, yada-yada-yada (if we had to entertain for a minute that this is the purpose of this movie)? We have so many disasters to pick from nowadays. Besides, the Discovery Channel and its peers have been to Aceh – they’ve done their thing, it’s been aired, and again, and again… the viewer total dropping with each iteration. Yet another documentary will not change that – let’s face it.

    So as a POWO, I’ve completely forgotten about this disaster. But this movie has the potential to resurface that bridge between me and the people who are still being affected by this event. It is doing so now – even before I have seen it – if I ever do. Whatever the criticism hoisted against this movie, (and I’m sure there will be a lot), we are the audience of the narrative, not the victims of this disaster. As for me, the message is now refreshed.

    • Madhu says:

      “As for me, the message is now refreshed.”

      Good, practical point. The effects of this film can be many, good and bad both.

  6. R James says:

    First World Problems?
    Anything else unrelated you would like to get off your chest FB?
    KoW blog will hopefully resume normal beyond sixth form service shortly.

  7. Carl says:

    You are oh so right about this movie Mr. FB and now that you have brought this up I feel very guilty. Will you toss me bone now?

    Geesh buddy, lighten up. It’s a movie.

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