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January 11, 2008
Globalisation & Representation in European Cinema: Hub Page
(From BBC Website April 2007)
This page is a hub page which can direct you to specific films covered in this blog which have as one of their core themes the representation of the processes of globalisation and migrant labour which may be legal , 'illegal' or undocumented or varieties of slavery including sex trafficking. There will also be a range of useful external links provided. The focus films are currently mainly British ones with some exceptions. Sadly there seem to be few current European films dealing with these issues although of course they may be 'out there' but just not well distributed. The availability of these will be monitored and added to this page as and when they are released / discovered. Whatever else there are a fantastic number of stories of human endurance, stoicism, tragedy and success out there. It is time these were represented far more strongly and effectively than they are and also they should be represented with some recognition at the meta level of what has created these conditions in the first place. Links are also provided to useful pages or references about trafficking, migrant labour, Shock Therapy etc.
A Paucity of Representation
On a Google search of a couple of terms I'm rather surprised that there is very little work on the web concerned with the representation of the processes of globalisation in particular cinemas and their outcomes at the level of narratives either fictional or more documentary style. British cinema is barely touched upon with the only recent film with any serious coverage being The Last Resort by Pawel Pawlikowski in a PDF of an academic conference held under the auspices of the Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe research group. Many other subjects which came up through the search focused on such things as the domination of global cinema by Hollywood, a process which has been happening since the end of the First World War so is hardly news.
What this particular page is concerned about is not the responses of Hollywood's 'other' ie the now, to my mind, inappropriately named World Cinema to this economic domination, although it is of concern. Rather I was hoping to find serious work linking the underlying processes of politcal economy and the global flows of migration into Europe and attempts to represent this process. In the conference refered to above there was a useful looking body of work developing around recent Italian cinema. Sadly I'm not familiar with most of the films mentioned and haven't seen them promoted here however I will be checking them out. Even as late on as 1997 in a city like Vilnius in Lithuania one could see many beggars often old and with bad disabilities out on the streets in desparate straits. in the process of gaining nascent democracy the price was being paid by the weakest in society.
Amongst others an entrepreneurial streak was established, cowboy economies ruled, various criminal gangs grew up and gang murders were frequent. A range of dodgy companies trading in cross-border deals with Russia in metals started up. These countries became entrepots for sex trafficking and migrant labour now being sucked into the burgeoning and quite deregulated economies of countries like Britain.
Globalisation: The Neoliberalism of Thatcher & Reagan
When discussing globalisation it is obviously a huge concept to come to terms with. I'm taking globalisation to mean the development of a dominant discourse of neo-liberalism which started with the nearly simultaneous election of Thatcher and Reagan in 1979 / 1980 after the crisis of capitalism in the 1970s which saw the rate of profit sink in both countries and other leading Western economies, furthermore the 1970s was a decade of severe industrial strife as well as other political upheavals in Europe. Globalisation went on for about a decade which saw the enforced collapse of the Soviet Union through a door that was already half open. To get to this point required the breaking of the trade union movements in Britain and the USA through a process of deindustrialisation in these countries and the installing of an infrastructure which could develop an informationally based economy. At the same time the Soviet Union which was the main external pole of resistance to gloablisation came under increasing pressure. Undoubtedly the war in Afghanistan in which the current Taliban and al Quaida networks were supported by British and American special forces training helped to sap the energy of Soviet forces who were a relatively untrained conscript army at least as unwilling to be fighting as a lot of young Americans in Vietnam.
Shock Therapy & Diaspora
A core part of the strategy of the Anglo-American axis of power after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 - a symbolic and real signifier of the collapse of the Soviet Union - was the institution of the so-called 'Shock Therapy' economic regime in the former Soviet block. This prioritised an effective destruction of the economic infrastructure of these countries which were often internally linked by creating a range of tarrifs which made it impossible for the old system to function as effective economic competition for Western economies. It also opened up the system to takeovers by Western companies.
The system of Shock Therapy also managed to wipe out the savings many people had made which were held in Roubles. The collapse of the Rouble which became almost worthless meant disaster for many older people in the ex-Soviet Union such as the Baltic States as well as people under the influence of the Soviet regime in countries such as Poland. At the same time the welfare system which had ensured that everybody had housing, health and work largely fell apart. The newly emergent states were unable to afford anything like this.
Of course this doesn't explain other sources of cheap labour pouring into Southern Europe from Africa or into the United Sates via Mexico. Historically massive phases of economic expansion have sucked in labour from other parts of the World. Migration into Britain to build the transport infrastructure in the 19th century largely came from Ireland, the railways system in the USA was based upon Chinese labourers. Post-war European expansion was fuelled with labour from different parts of the world depending upon the imperial past: Britain from the West Indies, India and Pakistan; France from Algeria and various African colonies; Germany had its Gastarbeiter system using labour from Turkey, Spain, Morocco and the then Yugoslavia.
On this basis one can either argue that the growth of capitalism as an economic system is a form of globalisation which is a direct response to the collapse of empire as a result of the 20th century 30 Years War 1914 - 1945 or as I have done here take it as the outcomes of a specific moment in which the years of 1979 / 80 were a key political turning point which allowed the establishing of a truly globalising economy with a series of outcomes one of which is mass diasporas into the more advanced economies.
Representing Globalisation the Strength of British Independent Cinema
In general the repesentation of the multi-faceted aspects of globalisation have been weak however it is argued here that British cinema has been possibly the best national cinema in representing the underlying political economy of globalisation as defined above. Some of the work of Ken Loach has been concerned with the de-regulation of British industry and the dodgy outcomes of economic liberalisation from the early 1990s until now. Riff-Raff, The Navigators and It's a Free World have certainly covered many of these issues as they have unfurled underpinned by the director's understanding of political economy. Ae fond Kiss also saw Loach take on board the issue of ethnicity and identity very directly. Independent British cinema has certainly been strong on both the concerns of migration and diaspora and also on the issues of hybridity and the changing cultural identity of Britain in recent years. Arguably it could have been stronger but that is an issue well beyond the desires of individual filmmakers who have done an excellent job in the face of an industry which provides little in the way of marketing and promotion, distribution and exhibition.
I consider that the issue of representing ethnicity in British cinema frequently relates to the period of pre-globalisation in films such as East is East. The waves of immigration into the UK predated globalisation on my working definition and representation and ethnicity can often relate to several generations of British people and the hybridity stemming from that embeddedness. The representation of ethnicities from temporary migration and recent migration as a direct outcome of globalisation are treated differently although there are clearly crossovers and overlapping as in the case of the representation of those who are British but become caught up in post 9-11 resistance to globalisation as represented in films like The Road to Guantanamo.
Other contemporary British films which deal with the issues of Globalisation currently include:
11-09-01; Collected shorts including Ken Loach. A series of responses to 9/11
For an overview about these films and their contribution to contemporay British cinema please go to Representing the World Locally.
Non-British Films Representing the Forces of Globalisation
Lily 4-Ever: Lucas Moodysson (Sweden, the economic Shock Therapy regime helps promote Sex trafficking to better off Western Economies)
Cache: Michael Haneke (France) (An allegorical tale of French repressed memory of the murdurous treatment of Algerians in the 1960s)
Code Unknown: Michael Haneke (France) (The breakdown of communications in the contemporary world)
Babel ( 2006) Alejandro González Iñárritu (Japan/ Mexico / USA). Another powerful allegory of miscommunication and such things as arms dealing. At Cannes 2006 many lauded the film as the first great film about globalisation.)
Shock Therapy and its Consequences in Transition Economies (Requires institutional access)
Mervyn King as reported by the Daily Telegraph on the way wages have been kept down by immigrant labour.
From a different political pespective The Worker outlines its case on Migrant Workers and their exploitation
The UK signs a European Convention on trafficking. Will regulation finally catch up with the situation?
June 30, 2007
OCR Media Studies: Foundation Production Unit
The hands of a cyberbully? Your opportunity to campaign against this!
The development of mass media and the ability to communicate information fast has meant that media has played a powerful role in developing and maintaining improved standards of citizenship nationally and in the wider World. Many charities and pressure groups have harnessed the power of the media to expose injustice and exploitation. They have often created broadbased campaigns to create awareness, persuade people to take action and therefore influence institutions, companies and the government of the day to make better policies. The ability to communicate powerful messages and values through effective advertising campaigns has played a fundamental role in this. In the foundation production unit you will be developing your skills in this area.
For this specification you will need to be developing a powerful web-based media campaign. The general specification demands that it is as follows:
Main task: produce a campaign website including sound and video, including a sound and video for a campaign (eg political, health, charity, environmental. The site should include a logo, original photographs, (minimum four per candidate), written text, audio, video and easy navigation. (OCR Specification Document November 2007)
Below I have made some suggestions for campaigns based upon topical issues which can also link into other aspects of the New OCR Media specification for first delivery in September 2008. You will also find that the new draft specification for the WJEC Board will allow for a campaign of this nature. Teachers and lecturers will of course need to check out the specifications as they are fully accredited.
Choosing Your Campaign
As it currently stands the OCR specification allows you to invent your own campaign. The approach being taken here is to campaign for the development and maintenance of citizenship rights on a global basis. The production unit will be used to dvelop an understanding of three common areas where good policy needs to be accompanied by alert citizens to create awareness of hidden problems in our society. This also affords us the opportunity to think about the important relationship the media can have with specialist organisations working towards ending specific abuses within our society.
Public Service Broadcasting & Journalism
Many of you will be taking Media Studies with ideas of becoming a journalist. Good journalism and reporting has always managed to bring unpleasant issues into the spotlight and all aspects of media have their role to play. Good journalism must be supported by a good broadcasting framework which sees serving the public / citizens as a fundamental human right. We call this Public Service Broadcasting and is something we deal with in greater depth in the A2 year. Please note that most of the stories on this posting have emanated from the BBC not the commercial broadcasting companies who are primarily concerned with making money. As the links have been gleaned from general searches this shows you the importance of the BBC.
Campaign Against Abuse of Citizens
Previously campaigns have been focused upon four options however it is now easier to open up the range of choices. The first four choices relate to issues of abuse.
- Firstly: the development of cyberbullying and other internet related issues. This will contribute an added dimension to the unit which we will study later on New Media Technologies
- Secondly: there will also be the option of developing a campaign for Amnesty International to help expose and stop the growth of the sexual exploitation of young women from poverty stricken countries who are trapped in a cycle of illegal immigration, violence and sexual exploitation. This links to the ooption to study Women and film for your A2 research project.
- Thirdly: we will look at the issue of child abuse in general which is still a big problem as shown by the work of the NSPCC.
- For the fourth option we will look at the issue of elder abuse which is now being recognised as an increasing problem in Britain
Cyberbullying appears to be coming more common. Communications systems as they are usually envisaged have the purpose of making life more transparent and opening up opportunities for all citizens of whatever age to develop their capabilities. However most technologies can be used for unpleasant purposes and even downright criminal ones which oppress and repress people. Eternal vigilance coupled to an ethic of good quality citizenship rights for all need to be combined to ensure that misuse of technologies for abusing fellow citizens is resisted and eradicated as far as possible.
In the past one or two of my sixth-form students have taken up aspects of cyberbullying in the last couple of years and knew more about it than I did. But the phenomenon was still relatively limited. As it develops the issues of Cybercitizenship rights at a global level need to be taken very seriously. Below I have provided an initial webliography for students to do some initial research into this. It must be born in mind that this phenomenon is likely to get worse before it gets better which means that major charities are likely to get involved in the problem soon.
For those of you who decide to take up this option you sh
ould see yourselves in a pioneeering and important role. Remember it is you rather than your lecturers / teachers / examiners who are likely to be more aware of this phenomenon in your everyday life. It is possible that major charities such as the NSPCC will take an interest in your work. Think of this project as your entry ticket into the adult world. The fact is you can make a difference! The combined results of personal research required for this project will provide some useful data which we may wish to publish electronically. If people from a lot of colleges find this positing and contribute then the pool of available data will become wider and the information potentially more valuable. How valuable depends on the quality of the research.!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/southern_counties/4412530.stm. East Sussex Council is one of the earliest to take Cyberbullying seriously.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/2902777.stm. About the growth of bullying of adult workers.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1929944.stm. Link here to BBC Video on cyberbullying
Striking back at Cyberbullies: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4912766.stm
Bullied girl sent hate e.mail: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/gloucestershire/4807396.stm
Cyberbullying on teachers (April 2007): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/6522501.stm
Social networking sites such as Bebo and MySpace must do more to police what users do, warns Computing Which?http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5344722.stm
Alan Johnson as the Education Minister under Tony Blair recently pledges to deal with cyberbullying (April 2007): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/6527133.stm
Websites urged to act on cyberbullies (April 2007): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/6539989.stm
Anger at cyerbullying in Cornwall (April 2007): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/cornwall/6586735.stm
cyberbullying gathers pace in the US (June 2007): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6245798.stm
Presenting yourself on the Internet
A new chief safety officer, Dr Rachel O'Connell, described as "one of Europe's foremost experts in internet safety", is being appointed by Bebo on 17 July. Tunbridge Wells Grammar School monitors how its girls presented themselves on the internet. Their naievty was putting them at risk. As media students should know there can be significant differences between what the producers of media intend (preferred reading) and how audiences might gain meaning from them (negotiated reading). See the story here:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/kent/5140316.stm
Guidance on how to use social networking sites safely could be a good thing to campaign on.
Bebo safety tips: http://www.bebo.com/SafetyTips.jsp
Wired Safety: http://www.wiredsafety.org/
Trafficking in human beings to provide very cheap labour or else to feed the exploitative sex trade has become an increasing problem in rescent years with the spread of globalisation as this image from a Danish anti-trafficking campaign makes clear.
A recent powerful film by the Swedish director Lucas Moodysson called Lilya 4-Ever was inspired the story of a teenage Lithuanian woman who was lured to Sweden and enslaved in the sex trade. The film is one which is considered as a representation of women for the research unit on Women and film. There is a posting on this blog which gives you a good range of internet links to research the film and this unpleasant aspect of social reality further: Lilya 4-Ever. Human trafficking is not limited to just the sex trade as the recent British drama documentary Ghosts has shown. This is also a film which we look at in year 2 for the unit Contemporary British Cinema in the OCR specification. This is a link to a posting on this site which again gives a range of external links to explore: Ghosts.
Many of the undocumented Chinese labourers who were employed as cocklepickers represented in Ghosts were drowned on Blackpool Sands
Child Abuse & the NSPCC
For many years the NSPCC have run vey effective campaigns to highlight child abuse and child murder. The design of these has often been in black and white and the mise en scene is often based on real looking locations and very poignant slogans which fit well with the image.
NSPCC & child Abuse Webliography
Access Robbie Williams film More Precious than Gold
BBC on Parenting: Your Kids - What is Child Abuse?
In recent years abuse of the elderly has been recognised as an increasing problem and several charitable organisations have developed to combat this whilst older charities such as Help the Aged have devoted an increasing amount of energy to this issue.
Kathlene a victim of elder abuse with her new carers. Link here to BBC London's expose as Kathlene tells her story.
Good journalism and reporting has always managed to bring these unpleasant issues into the spotlight and all aspects of media have their role to play. Good journalism must be supported by a good broadcasting framwork which sees serving the public / citizens as a fundamental human right. We call this Public Service Broadcasting and is something we deal with in our A2 year. Please note that most of the stories on this posting have emanated from the BBC not the commercial broadcasting companies who are primarily concerned with making money. Highlighting the problem is one thing but helping to get everybody thinking about WHY these things go on is very important. Programmes such as Woman's Hour have an important role to play. Here you can listen to a Woman's Hour discussion on why elderly abuse is so prevalent in our society.
Elder Abuse Webliography
Link to Action on Elder Abuse a charity specifically developed to deal with this issue
Report highlights Elder Abuse (June 2007): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/6752965.stm
Elder abuse affects thousands (June 2007): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6751155.stm
Abuse of Elderly most common in UK (June 2007): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/6751637.stm
Elderly abuse becoming common (Summer 2006): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5043896.stm
This link is strangely related to our unit on new media technologies for it is a BBC story about Child Abuse in Second Life the virtual world.
Fashion Campaigns (1)
Website Catwalk Queen made the following pusillanimous comment about this campaign launched at the Milan fashion show in 2007:
You can view the image after the jump but be warned that some readers might find it disturbing.
Unsurprisingly the Italian advertising authority banned the advertising campaign for breaching its 'code of conduct'. The BBC has noted the following comment in an attempt to blame the victim of course:
Interstingly the campaign was sponsored by Flash and Partners a fashion design company.
Of course quite a lot of readers should be rather more disturbed that the fashion industry helps to encourage mental states that leads to these sorts of symptoms. Here we need to be asking who is constructing the current set of so-called beauty standards. Many would argue it is the construction of a male gaze which creates a mental state in women who are used to be looked at. It is rare that the reality is portrayed.
Old-fashioned posters can still be highly effective: No Anorexia hits the streets of Milan
LONDON - Unilever, the maker of Dove cosmetics and Lynx deodorant, has banned size zero models from appearing in its advertising in response to public opinion. (Brand Republic 08-May-07, 14:00)
British Chiropractic Association (BCA) Backs Anti-Size Zero Campaign
Losing muscle mass means the support in vital areas such as the neck may not be enough to hold heavier structures like the head. This can potentially result in changes to posture such as forcing you to hold your head forward which causes the head to feel heavier, putting extra strain on the neck muscles, this can be linked to a number of long term problems such as headaches. In extreme cases significant weight loss can lead to loss of bone density (osteoporosis) and can cause changes to the menstrual cycle as well.
Fashion Campaigns 2
Primark & Child Exploitation
People & Planet groups organised a series of coordinated protests at Primark stores around the country on Saturday 10 March. Armed with banners and ironing boards they withstood counter-flyering attacks from Primark and collected hundreds of petitions.
What you don’t know . . .
There are said to be 470 Facebook groups devoted to Primark, 392 of them positive. By severing links with three Indian factories for severe breaches of its ethical standards, including the use of child labour, the discount clothing retailer has given the other 78 something to chat about.
At least one campaign group castigated Primark for “cutting and running” rather than working with suppliers to improve. But most Primark customers, if not indifferent, will have taken the action as it was intended: a rapid, but considered, response to a grave breach that, according to Associated British Foods, the retailer’s parent, was so ingrained it would have been hard to correct easily.
That still leaves the question why the problem was uncovered by the BBC and not Primark’s supply auditors. The problem for companies sourcing products from developing markets is summed up in Primark’s statement that it would never “knowingly permit” the activities now uncovered.
Not knowing, lobbyists would argue, is no longer an excuse.
The Associated British Foods share price was in the article. Obviously serious campaigns will hurt the share price.
The Times, June 17, 2008
By Maggie Urry