Monday, May 17, 2010

Is There Such A Thing As Happily Ever After?

Jesus Hernandez

Engl. 495 ESM

Prof. Wexler

In a time when financial institutions are falling apart and the consequence of one country’s financial problems seems to affect the entire world, what better way to escape these problems than to watch a feel good movie such as “Slumdog Millionaire”. Although the film takes place in India, the overall values it presents seem to be western ideologies and concepts. The struggles of the main character, Jamal Malik, are at times very harsh and cruel but undoubtedly real, yet the story ends on a happy note. We cheer Jamal on as he gets closer to winning the ultimate prize of 20 million rupees in India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”, and yet we get to see Jamal’s life story unfold before our eyes and see a darker version of India that many people are not aware of. Yet it is because the movie ends on this westernized concept of a “happily ever after” that creates the ultimate dilemma for a vast majority of us: when all is said and done, the happily ever after vanishes and its back to the real world.
In the article titled “Towards a Critique of Globalcentrism: Speculation on Capitalism’s Nature” the author, Fernando Coronil, explains that “As has occurred in many Third World countries, neoliberal globalization may promote ‘growth’ and yet erode a sense of national belonging” (Coronil). In the movie, Jamal is seen working at a telecommunication company called Excel Five Mobil. This company portrays a good concept of globalization because even though the company has its call center in India, it has a mural of clocks that represent different time zones from around the world. It becomes difficult to pinpoint the relationship between the company, its workers, and the people it is trying to serve, which can lead to problems. What happens when the call center wants its workers to work on a religious holiday, or in the case of the movie, have them work when their co-worker Jamal is close to getting the ultimate prize in “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. This feeling of possible prosperity and yet at the same time feeling alienated from ones home country is the prime example of the difficulty for countries who are trying to integrate into the concept of globalization.
Another key concept that Fernando Coronil discusses is the prime example of what happens when people get left out of the prosperity of “Globalization”. Coronil mentions that “For many who find themselves at the mercy of the market forces and yet have little to sell, the ‘market’ takes the form of drug trade, black market, sex work, and the trade of stolen goods or even of body parts” (Coronil). This concept appears numerous times in the movie. The character Maman, at first seems like a charitable and likable character because it seems like he is helping out all these children by feeding them and providing them with shelter. As the film progressed we saw the true meaning behind Maman’s intentions: he was picking orphaned children from the streets to force them to work by asking for donations, he would go as far as dismember the children in order to get more money through sympathy for the dismembered children. Another example is of Maman training Latika in high cultured dances and preserving her “virginity” in order to sell her to the highest bidder. A third example is when Jamal and Salim started stealing shoes from tourist in the Taj Mahal, and then would later resell them out in the streets. It’s tough, but when you can’t play the game of globalization fairly in order to prosper, you have to take different routes to make that prosperity come to you.
The concept of the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” is the driving force behind the movie. This show originated in the United Kingdom, and has been adopted in various parts of the world. This show represents the western ideology that anyone who has some intelligence and a little bit of luck, can walk away as a richer person with as little effort possible. But it becomes difficult to pinpoint what exactly one attains when one becomes “richer” through such game shows as “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. During the movie, when Jamal gets reunited with Latika once again, Jamal asks “why do people watch such a show?” referring to the game show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” and Latika responds “it’s a means to escape, and opportunity to walk into another life”. That is exactly what games show such as “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” are trying to do, play with people’s emotions and hook them into believing that it could indeed be “you” who could be sitting in the chair for a chance to become wealthier. But does your life truly become better when you get that money? It seemed to have gone well for Jamal, because he got the girl and the money in the end of the movie.
The most discouraging part of the movie was its ending, which ultimately led to the westernized concept of the “happily ever after”. Although the main character, Jamal, goes through all these hardships during his lifetime, the movie ends with Jamal winning the 20 million rupee’s and finally getting reunited with his long lost love Latika. What then are we to make of the group of children Maman used to collect money? What about the people who lived in the slums that cheered Jamal on during the show? What about Jamal’s brother Salim? As Frank Rich points out in his article “Who Wants to Kick a Millionaire?” when talking about the main character Jamal, “We cheer the young man on screen even if we’ve lost the hope to root for ourselves. The trouble with ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is that it, like all classic movie fables, comes to an end – as it happens, with an elaborately choreographed Bollywood musical number, and then we are delivered back to the inescapable and chilling reality outside the theater’s doors” (Rich). Although “Slumdog Millionaire” was a great feel good film, at the end of the film, many will be left wondering of what to do with their own problems, instead of thinking of the vast poverty and economic disparity presented in the film.

Works Cited
Coronil, Fernando. “Towards a Critique of Globalcentrism: Speculation on Capitalism’s
Nature. Duke University Press 2000.
Rich, Frank. “Who Wants To Kick a Millionaire?” New York Times Dec. 21, 2008.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How was it that a feel good movie such as “Slumdog Millionaire” obtains a staggering 10 nominations for academy awards and walks away with eight of them? Although the film does have some great cinematography, music composition, and a unique storyline, it is through the concepts that it adopts from western influences that the film is able to achieve world wide recognition and acceptance. The negative construction of poverty stricken India coupled with having western ideologies interwoven in the storyline help make “Slumdog Millionaire” a good example of why globalization is a driving factor that is destroying the image of a comforting, united world.

Some of the key factors that I will be discussing in this paper are how the television show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" is a driving force that is constructed in the story and show how it influences the movie with western ideologies. India as a nation is portrayed in a negative way, images of the slums, conflict between religious groups, child labor exploitation, and sex trafficking are just a few examples. But through a popular show such as "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" the audience expects for the underdog in the movie to pull through all the conflict he has experienced and end on a happy note. This is the problem the movie creates because once the story ends, what of the poverty and children being abused in India, what is to become of them? Globalization certainly will not help them, then who will?

Mind the Trickster: thoughts on the tricksters mind

While working on the Myth presentation, and reading the diverse mythological stories of the trickster in our book, I came to realize that the trickster has always been and will most likely continue to be one of the most influential characters not only in folkclore, but in our modern day multimedia society as well. More often than not, we get bombarded with information on current events from around the world, but sometimes you have to stop and wonder "is the information I'm receiving accurate? Is someone putting a twist to the information or simply ommitting something to create a certain bias?" Then I suddenly realized that one of the best examples of a modern day trickster would be John Stewart and Stephen Colbier, these guys are brilliant in editing information and creating their own twist or having the information they present conform to their bias. But does this stop the viewer from discrediting John Stewart and Stephen Colbier from being completely reliable? The trickster has come a long way from being the creature/man/god who only did things to benefit himself or herself....

The Glory of Dying Young

It is very common that many people want to grow old and accomplish many things before they pass away. In many cases it’s not necessarily the accomplishments that really count, but the actual glory and knowing that you will be recognized forever which really motivate many people. But in A. E. Housman’s poem “To An Athlete Dying Young”, its seems that glory is always escaping, and in order to capture it and make it last, a person must die young after achieving greatness. Houseman is able to preserve the young athlete’s achievement by using an intricate rhyme and meter, figures of speech, and the figure of the laurel, to preserve the young athletes greatness forever.
The poem is composed of seven stanzas, and is written as an ode to a young dying athlete. Each stanza consists of two pairs of end-rhyming lines, or couplets (aa,bb/cc,dd/etc…). Many of the poems lines are in iambic tetrameter, which according to Poetry Handbook: A Dictionary of Terms is “a line having four feet that each consist of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable” (Deutsch 95). Lines 1 and 2 of the poem are examples of an iambic tetrameter: The time you won your town the race/
We chaired you through the mar ket-place.
Other lines in the poem are in trochaic tetrameter with catalexis in the end of each line. The first two lines in the fourth stanza are an example of trochaic tetrameter with catalexis: Eyes the sha dy night has shut / Can not see the Re cord cut. According to the Poetry Handbook, a catalexis is “a line from which unstressed syllables have been dropped, in trochaic verse the final syllable is often dropped” (Deutch 25).
Housman’s use of rhyme and meter help the reader understand the ode to the dying athlete. By using couplets, Housman can express a sort of pace, much like the young athletes pace of running, to show the different stages of the young athletes accomplishments and glories. By using catalexis in the fourth stanza, Housman creates a strong statement to prove that if a young person dies young when he or she has accomplished something great, they won’t live to see the day when their accomplishments get shattered by another person.
Some of the various figures of speech that Housman used in the poem include Alliteration, Oxymoron and Personification. Some examples of alliteration are in line 1: The time you won your town the race, time and town and you and your have been used to create alliteration. In line 19: “Runners whome renown outran, the letter n has been used to create alliteration. The oxymoron that Houseman uses is in the fourth stanza when he uses “silence sounds”, this oxymoron solidifies the stanza which implies that it’s better to be six feet underground and experience silence, than to grow old and let your glory fade away. Some uses of personification are in lines 10 when Housman mentions: “From fields where glory does not stay”, and in line 16 “After earth has stopped the ears.” The first personification helps create a sense of time lapse, nothing is ever permanent. The second personification helps the fifth stanza solidify the point that when the young athlete passes away, earth will cover his ears so he won’t experience neglect and eventually fade away from his glory.
The final device that Housman uses to preserve the young athletes glory forever is the use of the image of the laurel. According to Robert K. Martin article A.E. Housman’s Two Strategies: A Shropshire Lad and Last Poems “Houseman’s poem ‘To An Athlete Dying Young’ is structured around the figure of the laurel, which, as Housman knew, was used for the wreath of the victorious athlete and for the poet. For the poem itself is the laurel wreath bestowed on the young man, and it is the wreath which guarantees a life beyond death” (Martin). Houseman’s poem to the young athlete works as a sort of laurel that he gives to the young athlete to praise him and guarantee a life beyond death.
In the third stanza, Housman praises the young athlete:
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
This stanza shows how nothing is ever really permanent in the real world, and claims that although the laurel “grows” early, it dies just as quickly as a rose. A rose, just like the young athlete, achieves a brief state of grandeur, beauty, and glory, but only for a little while because it quickly dies off and disintegrates.
The final stanza returns to the figure of the laurel, which has morphed from an emblem of early death to one of eternal life:
And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.
According to an overview of the poem in Poetry for Students the “irony of this transformation, that this garland which is ‘briefer than a girl’s’ should be still ‘unwithered’ is the poet’s assertion of the permanence of art and memory…he remains alive because he wears a laurel that will not wither, a garland of words, in fact the very poem we are now reading and in the act gazing on preserves his glory forever” (Ruby).
The young athlete will forever be remember for his triumphs in his short lived life, and although there is no clear definition of when or where this young athletes life is taking place, it helps it become a universal theme for any person who achieved great feats and died young.

Works Cited
Deutch, Babette. Poetry Handbook: A Dictionary Of Terms. Harper Collins, NY 1957.
Martin, Robert K. “A.E. Housman’s Two Strategies: A Shropshire Lad and Last Poems.”
Victorian Newsletter 66 (Fall 1984):12-17. Rpt. In Poetry Criticism. Ed David M.
Galens. Vol. 43. Detroit: Gale 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Feb
Overview: ‘To An Athlete Dying Young’ Poetry for Students. Ed. Mary K. Ruby. Vol. 7.
Detroit: Gale Group; 2000. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Feb. 2010.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Mind, Built of Idle Ponders

There is a hope that fears
The prospect of failing,
And a lingering fear
Hoping to endure.

There is a thought that
Never seems to get lost,
And another that thinks
Of not existing.

There is a dream
That dreams of sleeping,
And yet another
Certain of its existence.

There are humble minds
Built of broken dreams,
And pretentious dreams
Built of broken minds.

There is a mind
Its inner limits


the great times that i've never had
and the lonely days that i've always spent
the great emotions that i do not feel
and the unknown moments
stored peacefully in my head.

i don't know what i want
i've given up on all hope
the ackward silence that follows
and does not leave me alone
i don't know what makes me happy anymore.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Flying Japan

Going on a long journey
Over the Pacific Ocean
Contemplating on the fact
That I will soon arrive
To the Eternal Land
Of the Rising Sun.

Lost in a sea of new faces
Only real solution
Seeing this new culture
Trying to comprehend.

Finally touched land
Occupied with relief
Understanding the signs
No one in sight