Film Blog Assignment – The True Cost

• Provide a (very) brief synopsis of the film (ie. tell a reader unfamiliar with the film what the film is about

To the unfamiliar reader, this film is about the effects that foreign investments (particularly in clothing production) have on countries of the third world. For the most part, the film tells a story about the poor working conditions people undergo in these sweat shops who are are apparently indirectly forced to work there because the alternative is said to be so much worse (but probably safer in my opinion whatever it may be). When I say safer I mean safer because apparently people are so committed to the work they do (because it puts food on the table) that they are willing to walk into shaky buildings that will probably fall (and do) just to not get fired, despite being warned. Cotton farmers who don’t have enough to pay off their debts are also committing suicide on account of their land will soon be taken from them. Our first world country consumerism is the apparent cause of it all, because we want those lower prices, and so big business companies have decided to cater to that demand through a concept in economics known as “economies of scale” where basically bulk purchases mean less costs per individual unit. While it may seem good for us, it is not good for those workers living and dying in the third world.


• Hone in on and describe one aspect of the film that has ethical consequences; analyze how the film dealt with those ethical implications by looking at things such as:

The biggest apparent aspect that had an ethical consequence was when the production managers would ignore the warnings about their buildings possibly falling in the near future. This was really scary because the buildings actually did end up falling down, killing several people. This is especially sad when you consider that people really had no option of leaving their work for some warning, that is, if they wanted to put food on the table to live another day. I don’t think it was moral for the managers to not to call it a day, but could you blame them? I want to say yes, but this was clearly unavoidable.


• Interviews or dialogue—who was interviewed? what questions were posed? how was the interview framed (what came before and after, was it interrupted)?

There was another aspect of the film of people being interviewed. The one that stuck out to me was the one of a father being interviewed with his little girl at his side. It was framed around the issue of people getting sick as a result of leather production waste dumping into local natural waters, but I felt something else watching that poor little girl by her father. In America this little girl could have been having the time of her life making youtube videos but instead in a few more years she will probably be working the sweat shop. The consequence of child labor in India is the result of us wanting lower and lower prices, because in essence children would probably be likely to take lower pay than an adult, and we know for a fact big businesses will take advantage of this because what’s stopping them? There is almost no regulation protecting child labor.


• Scene and aesthetics—where was that section/topic of the film shot? how was it shot? were there particular stylistic decisions the director made to shape the viewers experience for that section/topic of the film?

This interview was shot in Bangladesh. Again, what made it more impactful to me was the little girl sitting beside him (his daughter most likely), but not just because I could visualize a version of her working the sweat shops in the near future, but because she was apparently getting the worst consequence of all as a result of clothing production dumping chemicals into the water (unethical), which she’d obviously consumed without a choice. In terms of the aesthetics of the interview, it looked like it was shot right outside their home, which looked like a slum clearly, so yes this probably contributed to enhancing the viewers experience.


• Any ethical theories either explicitly or implicitly employed in the film

I’ll talk about one, utilitarianism. Obviously the film includes some notion of utilitarianism because it makes us think about whether premise behind benefiting the greater good is really benefiting the greater good at all. If you think about it when we think sweat shops we think of a few poor souls slaving away, meanwhile we in first world countries flourish without consumer limitation (and regulation to produce in other countries) because we are seen as the greatest number apparently. But if you think about it, India and China have the biggest populations, and from what I understand most of the population lives in poverty. So in essence if we are really trying to do the greatest good for the greatest number, we should probably start by doing just that.


• Conclude the post by giving your personal assessment of how well the film dealt with the ethical consequences of the aspect you chose

Once again, the aspect I chose was how dangerous it is to be forced to work for so little because the apparent alternative is that much worse that people are literally walking into shaky buildings, risking their lives to provide for their families (despite being warned not to). I think the film did a great job in capturing the emotion of the family members and how tragic the whole occurrence was. I don’t think it was right for the managers not to send everyone home but if you get the culture then you understand why people are really willing to risk it all for a chance at life.


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