Slumdog Millionaire: pro-Western poverty porn?

0 Posted by - February 21, 2009 - Blog, Screen
Slum dwellers protest Slumdog Millionaire (Daily Mail)

Slum dwellers protest Slumdog Millionaire (Daily Mail)

Slumdog Millionaire may be set to sweep up some Oscars tomorrow, but does the film perpetuate myths and myopic perspectives?

Slum dwellers of the subcontinent have rioted at screenings of the flick, while others see the movie as nothing more than “poverty porn at its worst“.

The most compelling argument against Slumdog, however, is that the film implies that adopting Western values is the answer to poverty, a disturbing and dangerous assertion.

This perspective is championed by Hirsh Sawhney, who writes in The Guardian that Slumdog is nothing but a “simplistic text…designed to cash in on the India craze and provide digestible titbits about the country’s culture and history to western audiences”. Sawney continues:

In fact, far from spreading the blame for global poverty, Boyle’s film actually suggests that the west is the solution to India’s problems. Protagonist Jamal only escapes his ceaseless cycle of squalor and crime once he makes it into the orderly, democratic world of a British call centre. This call centre, in turn, delivers him to his fateful redemption on Millionaire. The subtext is clear: things are really bad in urban India but healthy servings of western values are just what the doctor – and the Academy judges – ordered.

What do you think? Is Slumdog preying on the poor and prescribing Western culture as a global panacea to poverty?

Leave a reply