The Slumdog of Western Media: The Crossover – Diasporic and Inter-cultural Film and Media

qSome of the most successful movies in the last decade have been diasporic films that teach us about different cultures. This may be obvious in feel-good movies such as ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ or ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, but can also be present in political statement films like ‘District 9’.

A Bit of Both

Now, just to clear this up, when I say ‘diaspora’, I’m not talking about the Jews but rather cross-cultural films. One of the characteristics of diasporic media, as identified in Khorana’s (2016) lecture, is that it may show “Marginalization and stereotyping of racialized communities”. This is clear in films such as ‘District 9’ where the social inequalities of the colored communities in South Africa is replaced by the aliens. Another example of this would be the Australian documentary ‘Go Back To Where You Came From’, which showed conservative Australian’s the hardships of daily life for refugees.

Who Wants to be a Slumdog?

One of the most successful diasporic films is Danny Boyle’s (2008) ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Many people may reflect on the film and think about the amazing journey Jamal had, the happy ending or even the soundtrack ‘Jai Ho’ by The Pussycat Dolls. However the film made an important statement about daily life in India and the struggles they face. Karnani (2011) even referred to the film as showing India’s “real poverty in its gritty detail, filthy grime, and even its revolting brutality.” In this case, diasporic media helped many westerners realize the struggles that many Indian’s face on a daily basis.

Summary

Diasporic media is an essential part of our culture. It helps us realize and sympathize with people from different cultures with the hardships that they face. These films are not only entertaining to watch, but make important statements and racial divisions and socioeconomic discrepancies.

References

  • Berghahn, D. (2007). No place like home? Or impossible homecomings in the films of Fatih Akin. New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film, 4(3), pp.141-157.
  • Karnani, A., 2011. Romanticizing the poor. In Fighting Poverty Together(pp. 85-109). Palgrave Macmillan US.
  • Khorana S, 2016, “The Crossover: Diasporic and Inter-cultural Film and Media” PowerPoint slides, BCM111, University of Wollongong, delivered 23rd August 2016
  • Millionaire, S., 2008. Danny Boyle.  Christian Colson. By Simon Beaufoy. Perf. Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Anil Kapoor, and Irrfan Khan. Fox Searchlight Pictures.
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