Loading...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Trash or Tool?

A few weeks ago I went to see the movie Taken. I had no idea that the movie dealt with human trafficking and sex slavery of children. I went because it was a friend’s birthday and she wanted to see “a mindless thriller” (she didn’t know what it was about either). The premise of the movie is that a young 17 year old American girl travels with a friend to Europe. After arriving they are charmed by a man who offers to share a cab with them thereby learning the location of their flat. A few hours later several men break into the flat and kidnap the girls into a sex slavery ring. Meanwhile her American father who was some kind of government agent/spy learns of this and flies over to rescue his daughter discovering this human trafficking ring.

I will admit sitting in the theatre watching a man take down and even torture traffickers was personally restorative, for about 4 minutes (please know that I do not advocate violence in any way). After that, all of the complications of this issue crowded my brain. I recalled a conversation that took place in Cambodia, when a wise woman challenged us saying “you know what is wrong with you Americans?” “You react, you don’t think.” Those words still stay with us. I do have those cowboy fantasies sometimes. I think how great it would be to knock down brothel doors, kick some a** and carry children out. But that emotionally based reaction would cause several ramifications that would actually harm more children in the future and damage the furthering of abolition. That is why Love146 values collaboration among all who are thoughtfully and thoroughly combating child sex slavery. All of us working together with purpose will see abolition realized.

I thought there were many flaws with this movie but there was one that left me leaving the theatre in rage. I felt they cheapened the lives of the children and women who face this each day as a reality by making it a brainless Hollywood drama. I won’t go into detail (this blog is already long) but I wanted to pose a question. The day after seeing the movie, I came into the office and started talking to some of my co-workers about it. One co-worker in particular had a completely different take. He viewed any coverage of human trafficking as a good thing, raising the level of conscience about the issue with the general public. We did in fact have someone contact us who found Love146 through internet research after seeing the film. I go back and forth. Is it good that to Hollywood this has become a “mainstream” issue? Is bringing it to the public (no matter how you do it) a good thing? Will it raise more awareness? I still don’t feel that it is honoring to women and children who are living as slaves. I still feel it perpetuates a destructive cowboy mentality. Do we have to dumb things down? Maybe we do.

This film’s budget was $45,000,000.00 its gross revenue was $61,144,470.00 – not everything is about money. Awareness can lead to Action, which will lead to Abolition. If this film brings that closer, than money is not an issue. I do not live in a dream world (well, sometimes I do), but I do wonder why it appears to be easier to raise/earn funds for a 2 hour film than to help end child sex slavery and exploitation.

I think of this spring when I will visit safehomes. Looking at these girls who have been through torture and are now growing, healthy and loved I will think of this film and be ashamed that one day they might see it. But who am I to judge? One of the last scenes of the film is the father embracing his little girl as she sobs “you came for me.” Isn’t that what these little girls were wishing for night after night? Someone who would come for them. I just think if we all work together we might be able do a better job and bring lasting change.

So, is this sort of entertainment trash or do we use it as a tool?

 

Still angry but hopeful,

 

Desirea

16 comments:

chloeadele said...

I think if one person finds Love146 because of this film, then it can't be a bad thing. I understand that for lots of people, it's easier to spend $9 to see a film than to give to a group of people on the front lines. It's much more comfortable to think of it as a story, scripted by some Hollywood writer, than to consider that real people are going through that kind of horror day in and day out. Being a parent, I can appreciate seeing another parent doing whatever it takes to rescue their child, but I imagine a lot of the kids in slavery today don't have a loved one looking for them. They have people like you.

I haven't seen the film, but I've seen others like it. 2007's "Eastern Promises" dealt with trafficking as well, but you never heard anything about that. you just heard about the naked fight scene.

I do think that movies can be a great way to get youth involved in the cause. If there would have been links to ways to get involved at the end of the movie, would that have made it better for you?

good topic!

cfpdx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cfpdx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cfpdx said...

I was not going to see this movie until I heard that it was about trafficking. Additionaly, I heard that someone was moved to donate to a global NGO after viewing this film. Therefore, I will remain open to this type of media as a way of reaching people that might not otherwise learn about human trafficking.

Alex Van Steen said...

There are many facets of human trafficking, and especially child trafficking, that can leave one hopeless. Without offering a judgment on the movie, I want to encourage you to remain hopeful by offering you another perspective. And, of course, those who are actively combating trafficking and establishing safehouses are in my book the most stalwart and hopeful among us! So I offer this to YOU respectfully.

Do we go to a John Grisham flick to understand the truth of an attorney's life? No. Do we watch Die Hard to see what a police officer's job is all about? No. Do we watch Vertical Limit to get an insight as to why people climb mountains? No. They are all entertainment. And Taken was created as entertainment.

I expected this before walking into the theater. I did not expect a real life documentary. I was even thankful that it did not depict what we know is the horrid reality of child trafficking. I was gripped by some of the scenes that touched on the reality behind the entertainment. I was gripped by the scenes at the construction site, by the rooms in the brothel, by the auctioning of the drugged 17-year old ... those scenes tore at me because they did simulate closer than most of the film what in essence can happen to these young people.

The movie can be a good tool, though. It can actually serve as a soft introduction to a brutally hard topic. Combine it with other resources in a study. See it as exposure to an issue that is gaining momentum. Use it as a discussion starter with teens. There are many ways in which we can be creative and use this to an advantage. We can make it more than rank entertainment. Each of us must do our part, each in our own way.

And thank you for all you do!

Desirea Rodgers said...

Thank you for your comments! It's great to hear what you think. I take your input seriously and as the creative director for Love146 it helps form my ideas about communication in the future. I love this discussion because it relates to the way human trafficking/slavery is perceived today and how we can continue to go deeper.
Please keep the thoughts coming!

Desirea

P.S. I chuckled when I read chloeadele's comment about Eastern Promises. I haven't seen the movie but I have definitely heard about the naked fight scene...

Victoria T. said...

A friend of mine who I informed about human trafficking to, told me about this film and said I'd like it. I haven't seen it, but I could imagine how you feel. The focus is mainly on the man who is going after the kidnappers of his daughter, and just saving her, correct? Instead it should show the importance of saving all those who suffer such outcomes of life. It will make people happy that justice is served while they watch it, so that could definitely leave people with a positive note. I could see how your co-worker would agree that any use of spreading the word about what is occuring is good. Hopefully it will stir up people's thoughts and they will find sites like love146.org in the process.

patrick cavan brown said...

Hope... what else is there?

I hope that even bad movies can deliver good messages...
I hope that uniformed people can be enlightened just a little bit...
I hope that enlightenment brings more than just understanding...
I hope that what I try to do is not for naught...
I hope that Images provide Information which bring Awareness, Action and hopefully Abolition...

I hope... and I fear...

better than Taken: Spartan with Val Kilmer

Esteban said...

I had the exact same reaction as you did and the movie left me feeling sick. What does it say about us as a society when we can throw around millions of dollars to produce and view a movie as entertainment, yet largely remain inactive about world changing issues.

Yes the movie might raise awareness, but will any of it lead to action? I hope so.

Esther Maria Swaty said...

hey! Thanks so much for writing a post on this.. I wrote a similar one on my blog as well, because I too was torn as to whether Hollywood was helping or hurting the cause... But I do think it has raised awareness, just as when everyone joined on board about Darfur in Hollywood. Yet somehow we have to make sure people do not become desensitized to the issue. That's what I loved so much about the Call + Response trailer, it really grabs you & doesnt let go until you take action.

Ashley said...

So I went to see this too with a few friends and like you, I didn't know what it was about. I just saw the commercials and heard that it was about a man who's daughter was kidnapped. As soon as it said these men kidnap women/children and force them into prostitution me and my friend looked at each other. The night before we went to see this movie, I told my friend about love146 and showed her the videos and everything and it just surprised me when I found out what the movie was all about.

I do think that this could help people become aware as to what is going on in the world but I didn't think of that point until you brought it up. I kind of think that the writers just did this for an action movie for entertainment. In my opinion, they should have had at the end say things like this really do happen today, help the children going through this and spread awareness or something along those lines.

I too wish I could just go into the brothels and rescue all the children and make people realize how horrible this is and make sure all the people doing this horrible thing gets what they deserve. But I can't so I just spread awareness through love146 and after seeing this movie it made me want to tell people about it so much more.

Deneen said...

I went to see Taken, and I left the theater seething. While I am happy that Hollywood is raising awareness of human trafficking, I don't think that this movie gave a realistic portrayal of trafficking or the sex trade. I was severely disappointed in the way that the movie ended, considering that 99% of girls do not end up untarnished by the experience. It was too "riding off into the sunset happily ever after" for my stomach and brain to bear.

An Ethereal Forest of Stars said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
An Ethereal Forest of Stars said...

I haven't seen this film yet, but I did watch Trade the other day, which was about a girl kidnapped in the sex trafficking in Mexico and sold in the USA. She gets rescued by her older brother with an American cop. I liked how they raised the issue, but there were still a whole bunch of flaws to it...

I too really hope that these films aren't just to make another "trend" of an issue, but if they do raise awareness and as long as the viewers realize that the issue is a REALITY, then I think it's not so bad; as long as the outcome of how many people take action weighs more than the effort it took to make and watch the film, hopefully.

I too lament the fact that it's easier for some Americans to spend millions and gain more millions making films rather than say, donating all that to a legit organization in the process of stopping slavery and helping the ones affected by it. Even more than that, I lament the fact that I sometimes spend money on things I don't need, and even more so, it disgusts me to see rich people spend thousands and millions each on mere rugs and clothes that will just turn to dust and make no lasting impact. I try to imagine what if all those expenses instead went to the building of more safehomes, to funding education and healthcare for these children, to use for more awareness, to help train and provide more caretakers..?

Anyways, I hope people don't get desensitized to this real problem. Over here we freak out when a mother kills her two kids or when we hear of people abusing their children (and rightfully we should be disgusted!), but then some seem so complacent and non-caring when hearing of parents selling their children to the sex trade, simply because they think it's an "abroad issue". "Oh, this doesn't happen here!". But it does. It's a global problem. I'm sure they'd be concerned if it was happening to their children or themselves!!!
But you are right, we cannot just react to only in an emotionally-charged, instinctual way. We have to use our thinking in strategy and the best ways to approach this issue.

You have no idea how many times I've heard people tell me "Oh well you know, slavery will ALWAYS be around, so there's no point fighting it". I mean, come on. Isn't it worth the effort to at LEAST change the life of one child or person, let alone many of them? Slavery has been abolished before, it can again. We can all make a difference, especially collectively. We can help impact the governments at hand, the policies, the communities...and rescuing just one child, helping restore just one person, is worth it, even if slavery could never be abolished.

I mean, that's like when people used to say "Oh, forget about trying to get to the moon, it'll never happen."

It did.

- Celine O'Neal

Angie said...

I had no idea what this movie was actually about until it started. After watching it, it disturbed me so much. I don't know, I guess I was totally oblivious that this was actually going on in our world. The next morning I began searching for more information and seeing what was being done about it. Scary to think it is still such a major organization with the times we live in. I stumbled upon this website, and am thrilled that there is help for these fallen girls. I wish I could so much, save them. I feel helpless, and it bothers me to the core. Raising awareness, which is what I believe this movie, and your website has done is the key. It is the only way we can fight against it, and as long as I reach more people I will feel I have done something.

Love146 said...

Thanks for your comment Angie, it is great to hear a part of your story. At times, raising awareness can feel pretty fruitless but it is something desperately needed. The flames of abolition must be fanned for this to end.

Desirea