Today I watched “Slumdog Millionaire.” It was my second time viewing the film and I noticed how much my reaction to it has changed. The first time I saw it we were in Montpelier. I was overwhelmed by the poverty, the lack of social support for children, and the blatant classism and tremendous (entrenched) inequality. I unconsciously dismissed Jamal’s predestined, unlikely and happy ending and, thus, just found the story to be so tragic. I cried as Jason and I walked up the hill from downtown Montpelier to our house.

So much has changed since then. Today when I watched the movie, I enjoyed it and found the pure undying love of the hero for the heroine to be quite nice – something I didn’t really notice the first time. I saw the older brother as the necessary yin to the yang of the hero – the person who navigated the harsh realities of slum life and kept them both safe – which allowed his younger brother to maintain distance from the struggle and keep his “pure gaze.”

The inequality, the classism, the dismal prospects of parent-less street children – those things did not shock me on the second viewing. I think that being here in China has made those things unremarkable and invisible to some extent. Instead of feeling outraged, and as if I should be able to do something about it, I recognize it as a way of life that is not considered all that scandalous or remarkable to those familiar with it, and which has its place in an entire social system – a social system which I only understand as an outsider.

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1 Response to Desensitized?

  1. You’re right. Those who live in these societies have become all too familiar with the sight and consider it no longer significant. It is, as you say, just being seen as another way of life.

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