Slumdog Injustice

This situation with Slumdog Millionaire simply makes me sick. This is the essence of exploitation. Not only on the studio’s part, but on movie watchers as well. It is oxymoronic that the world celebrates this beautiful rags to riches fairytale and the endurance of a “slumdog”, but then sits back and does not allow the story to really change their lives. We have glorified this story and it all makes us feel “good” and makes us assume that we have participated in some act of justice because we have watched a film. We have been lulled to complacency by endearing stories that we watch from the comfort of a padded chair.

The creators Slumdog Millionaire owe Mumbai and the families of the child actors, but so do we as viewers.

Otherwise we are simply benefiting from Mumbai’s poverty and exploiting the poor for our own entertainment.

Amos 2:6-7a

6Thus says the LORD,
“For three transgressions of (A)Israel and for four
I will not revoke its punishment,
Because they (B)sell the righteous for money
And the needy for a pair of sandals.
7“These who pant after the very dust of the earth on the head of the (C)helpless
Also (D)turn aside the way of the humble;

Isaiah 10: 1-2

1Woe to those who (A)enact evil statutes
And to those who constantly record unjust decisions,
2So as (B)to deprive the needy of justice
And rob the poor of My people of their rights,
So (C)that widows may be their spoil
And that they may plunder the orphans.

If we do not see ourselves as the oppressors we are missing something essential.

Oppression is not always  heavy handedness, it is also apathy and complacency with an oppressive system and unjust actions.


Telegraph recently spoke with Danny Boyle,  the director of Slumdog Millionaire , he asked the media to leave the families alone and allow them to work out their issues. I understand his statements and agree for the most part  media infiltration can be exploitation too -, but such an brazen injustice must be addressed. It is bad enough that the children – and anyone – lives in such conditions, but it is inexcusable, that a multi-million dollar grossing studio cannot be a little sacrificial and decide to give money earned from Slumdog Millionaire to the families and the development of their community – not just in a trust fund for the children, who says they will make it without help right now?

But again, it isn’t just the studio and it isn’t just this incident. Though not as public and glamorized as this Slumdog issue, we benefit from other’s material poverty all the time. Many of the products we use are made by slumdogs (maybe not in India, but somewhere). We use the argument, “well at least they have jobs” and suggest that we are providing individuals with income. NO!. We are strangling their economy by trapping them in low paying jobs from which they will never be able to move up. All in the name of lots cheap, fashionable clothing and goods for ourselves.

Our relationship with these countries and their people groups is not equitable. We as a people stand as the domineering over the dominated.

We are called to live just lives, not ones of material gluttony.

    • cwillz
    • June 10th, 2009

    I really appreciate this post. I enjoyed Slumdog and can say that it encouraged me to continue supporting justice movements even more than I had before. You are right that we are wrong if it only entertains us and we are not responsive to the call for action that a film like this should produce.

    About the last part of your post – do you know where to shop for clothing that is coming from a just source? how do we do the right thing? i know there are tons of terrible businesses that keep people oppressed, but what, today, can be done?

    I suggest a post with specific places we can shop and maybe some businesses to avoid.

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