30 Days to Changing Your View to a Whole New Type of Imperialism

Oh boy do I have a lot to talk about today, or, at the very least, I’m quite excited but what I’m going to say.

First up, Eureka…it’s just a barrel of fun and absolutely living up to my expectations, and I’m moderately perturbed that I was a day behind on watching the most recent episode.

This past week the show recognized its own absurdity, with Sheriff Carter explaining to everyone that there had to be some kind of “gizmo” or “device” that was causing time to stop, or people to lose time, or rearranging their brain waves. That’s just the beauty of the series, he kept talking and it kept sounding absurd, but he was right, there absolutely was a “gizmo.” It was funny, it was smart, and it was really enjoyable to sit there and watch.

That being said, I still miss Maury Chaykin, and apparently his character only lost his job because of losing his leg…is that really an appropriate message, especially in a forward-thinking town?

Then last night, I watched 30 Days, the Morgan Spurlock show on FX. I will confess that I’ve never seen the show before, but last night’s episode on outsourcing of programming jobs to India sounded too good to miss. And, my review? It was good, it was bad, and some of it was definitely ugly. I routinely cringe to see people from this country venture abroad. It is scary to see, and it is clear where the term “ugly American” comes from.

There were moments in the show last night where Chris, the outsourced American, made me shudder. He actually started to argue at one point that the outsourcing of jobs to India and the modernization of India was bad because it would change a culture that had existed, in his mind, unchanged for thousands of years. He was upset that the modernization of India was forcing Soni, the wife in the family he was staying with, to want to work. It was altering their culture, where women took care of the home for centuries. Would he ever have said such a thing in the U.S.? I doubt it, and if he had, would we take anything he said seriously? No way.

Eventually, Chris saw that many people in India live in squalor, and that the outsourcing of jobs might help provide running water and electricity for millions in India (this sort of modernization is apparently okay in his mind). Chris finally returns home and says that it is almost like an act of charity for his job to have been outsourced, 3 families in India will be supported by his job having gone abroad.

This of course ignores the fact that his outsourced job didn’t get transformed into 3 jobs. It is still only one job in India, and the company is saving 2/3 of Chris’s original salary.

And, despite Chris’s hemming and hawing about his lack of money and lack of employment (and all of this may be true), he walks around in a Brooks Brothers polo shirt. I’m not saying that he does have cash reserves and is lying, but he does have on a shirt that even on sale is $35 or $40 (and usually at that price you need to buy 3 or 4 of them to get the discount), and often far more than that. It’s not the same as it would be if say Michael Eisner had stood up and declared himself unemployed and therefore broke after his leaving Disney, but it was uncomfortable to watch. Even if Chris is flat broke, and he might be, I am absolutely in no way saying that he isn’t, it’s tough to accept such statements from a man wearing expensive clothes.

I don’t wish to enter into a political or economic discussion here, so let me end with this: outsourcing does improve the conditions of life in India, and Chris did see that (whether it’s good overall for the world I won’t touch), but the way in which his opinions seemed to be shaped, and his final impressions of the situation, represent, in my mind, cause for concern.

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4 replies

  1. I’d be curious to hear more about what you mean when you write: “but the way in which his opinions seemed to be shaped, and his final impressions of the situation, represent, in my mind, cause for concern.”I had my own concerns at the end of the episode, you can read about them at http://web.mac.com/smzavestoski/iWeb/The_Curious_Stall/.I also thought you were a little harsh on Chris about his take on Soni. I don’t think he wanted her to stay at home and fulfill her traditional role at all. If anything, I thought he was sympathetic to the tension she was experiencing between old and new.Just a couple of thoughts. Otherwise, I liked you post.


  2. I apologize for the late delay in my response to your comment, due to some bad settings I could not tell you had commented until today.

    Chris went to India distressed at the entire notion of outsourcing, and more than a little bewildered and upset at his Indian counterparts for taking his job. Over time he decided that outsourcing may be good economically for India but that it was bad for Indian culture and was tainting a culture that hadn’t changed in thousands of years (a ridiculous notion, but the snippets we got of what he said expressed as much). In the end he was happy his job had been shipped overseas and seemed to feel as though he personally had a done a wonderful thing for the poor Indians by allowing this to take place and no longer being mad at them.

    He went from being angry at everyone that his job went overseas to being happy that he allowed it to happen. The first shows a misunderstanding of economics and the second a little too much “great white father” for me.


  3. OK, now I understand your view, and largely agree with it. The “outsourcing/economic development is changing India’s ‘unchanged’ culture” view is a hard one to let go of. Obviously all cultures are in a constant state of change. But I think Americans tend to view our culture as cheapened my consumer capitalism, and therefore less interesting or worth preserving than “ancient” cultures.

    It’s this view, I surmise, that led to Chris’s obsurd comment about India’s culture not changing in a thousand years and to his general concern for the way in which economic growth and the embrace of consumerism is changing India.

    In any case, thanks for responding to my comment. It’s nice to see a show that’s making people think and generating some discussion.


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