According to Otek p’ Bitek, culture has been misunderstood being an externally visible behavior and manifestation, rather than an internal or philosophical reality or way of life (China Blue). From this argument, this paper analyses the limitation of the concepts of happiness as reflected by the ‘China Blue” movie. The movie highlights lack of happiness form the perspectives of the employees of a factory where their maximum obedience is expected (Odera 269-273). They are forced to work for longer exhaustive hours with little compensation as pay. They cannot pay for their bills from the pay they receive from the factory and are unhappy with the general rules and working conditions. Every employed person would wish to gain satisfaction from the work done. People often measure satisfaction by the amount of time they work and the conditions attached to their contract against the compensation they receive for performing the tasks. However, in the film, work and pay are not relative considering the conditions at the work place.
China blue movie explores the experiences of the young employees who make the clothes we wear. It also explores the economic pressures that western companies apply and the consequences these pressures have on human beings. Throughout the production of this film, which was done without permission from the Chinese authorities, the theme of the film was evident. Even the production of the film was just as uneasy as the time of the employees at the clothe factory. The crew was stop numerous times by the police during the production of the film and even arrested . Their tapes were also confiscated and never returned to them despite the efforts of the American consulate. The film generally shows the overexploitation of the young works, which denies them the happiness they sought in searching for a placement in a job position. The production of the film also shows unhappiness of the crew considering the treatment they receive from the Chinese authorities.
China blue is a movie that takes the viewers through a blue jeans factory. In this film, Jasmine and her other two friends, Orchid and Li Ping, who are employees in this factory are struggling with surviving the unpleasant working conditions in their company. They are forced to work for long hours while they are paid little salaries, which attract deductions as fines for miscellaneous offences, which are common in workplaces and which could otherwise be pardoned or given lesser consequences than the fines. Their lives intersect the life of the film’s other principal character, who is the owner of the factory, Mr. Lam. The film further brings the some intricate issues of globalization to the human level by providing both perspectives of the bottom and top levels of the organization’s hierarchy.
Just as several others have done in the past, Jasmine leaves her community in Sichuan Village to assist her family by seeking work in a far-away factory. She finds employment in a factory that makes blue jeans, owned by Mr. Lam, a Chinese investor (China Blue). While working in this factory, she meets 14-years-old Li Ping, who she finds already experienced tailor. Over the lunch breaks, Jasmine who is new in the factory, watches another workmate Orchid, who decides to turn their 12-bed dormitory into a disco. She realizes that these friendships would be her only comfort as her prior excitement soon disappears. She becomes overwhelmed with the long working hours – seven working days in a week becomes so consuming – the delay in pay and the merciless fine system used in the factory become even more discouraging. The above reasons begin to fade away her happiness at the factory, despite joining in a jovial mood, ready to work for the sake of her family.
She admires Orchid’s easier schedule. Being a specialized zipper, Orchid is not tied to work as the tailors since she has limited work to do as compared to her friends (China Blue). Later in the film, Orchid goes home during the New Year holiday, having stayed out for two years. During this holiday, she introduces her boyfriend to her parents with the hope that they would approve him. In this factory, workers only have the Chinese New Year as the only time off duty in the entire year (China Blue). However, considering that Jasmine is new to the factory and has not gathered enough savings, she is unable to afford this expensive two-day trip back home to reunite with her family. She would have loved to spend this holiday season with her family, but the expense of the trip erodes her happiness. Nevertheless, she has little options to choose from them. She is forced to accept the circumstances.
Despite being the owner of the factory, Mr. Lam is not a happy person at all. Getting a new order from a promising British customer is tiresome and demanding, he has to agree to very low prices in addition to extremely tight delivery schedules (China Blue). As opposed to his employees who have to obey the orders from their employer, he shifts this discomfort to interfere with the happiness of the employees by reducing their pay and requiring them to work round the clock. Just as any other employed person, these employees lack happiness since they are forced to work for longer hours, yet their pay is reduced inconsiderately with their pay. The most heartbreaking thing is the fact that the factory owner would not accept dalliance from the employees that would not result in missing a deadline, in fact, they are at times forced to work extra hours without extra payment to catch up with the deadline requirements. This interferes with the happiness of Jasmine and her friends, but is left with no options to choose from. They decide to persevere a little longer even though they are sure that thing would never change for the better.
The film explores the global economic systems and accepts that they leave Mr. Lam with limited choices. It also shows in details what this would imply on the happiness of the workers of the factory (China Blue). In this film, falling asleep while at work would call for a fine. In trying to avoid such fines arising from sleep, Jasmine and her friend Li Ping sneak out to buy energy tea. Even sneaking is an offence in the factory. While out sneaking, they are caught and are fined anyway. This frightens their coworkers who resort to staying awake by clipping clothespins on their eyelids. The workers are unhappy with the treatment they are receiving in the factory are forced to do something which is illegal in China, they opt for a strike.
According to the movie, the characters used are younger than the usual working population and the conditions surrounding their search for jobs show that they are desperate for these jobs and would do anything to support their families. The film highlights the exploitation of cheap labor in developing countries used to produce cheap goods, which are sold expensively in the western markets. In this documentary film, the major focus is on a Chinese factory that manufactures denim jeans for larger western companies such as Tommy Hilfiger, Wal-Mart and Levis among other reputable western bosses. In this respect, every viewer of the documentary would ascertain that behind every Chinese high quality produced goods, which might be sold at relatively cheaper prices, there are several people who worked on them against their will. However, they could have been forced to work for their existence despite the unfavorable conditions.
In developing countries, people are dissatisfied with their jobs since they only work for the satisfaction of their bosses. When an individual becomes unhappy with the working conditions and decides to quit, another person would be willing to take up their positions even with worse conditions attached to it. Employees in these countries are never compensated according to the employment laws, especially when they resign from their positions. However, despite this mistreatment, their bosses are sure they cannot be prosecuted for such offences since they are richer than these employees, who might not afford the cost of justice. Even if they do afford these costs, their bosses would buy their happiness by influencing the law enforcing agents in the favor of the bosses.
Working in developing countries, such as China can at times be very unfair, especially when the bosses ascertain that their employees are desperate and lack the knowledge required to perform other types of jobs, especially in the case of specialization (Duell mail online). For instance, Li Ping is specialized in zipping and Mr. Lam is aware that she cannot secure an employment position in another industry. He uses her to make huge profits while rewarding her dismally. The property owners enjoy their happiness at the expense of their servants in these developing countries.
According to this documentary film, which had to be shot in secret due to the systems in China, it highlights the injustices that deprive the poor members of the society of the underdeveloped nations (China Blue). Those responsible for enacting legislations only look into those legislations that favor their selfish interests and never look into the plight of the underprivileged members of the society.
Happiness is the key reason why a person might decide to seek work. People are always willing to fulfill their desires by working for sufficient pay in relation to the job description and conditions (Bryan 122 – 124). When an individual is dissatisfied with either of the above, they would opt otherwise, which is not usually the case in developing countries. The developing countries landlords seek to employ people that they can manipulate to suit their interests. As a result, these young employees never enjoy the happiness they sought by accepting to work for the bosses. For instance, in the China blue film, we encounter Jasmine who is 17 years old and her 14-year-old friend. Generally, they do not fit into the working age group, but are desperate for work. In Jasmine’s case, she seeks to provide happiness for her family back at home, which she cannot even manage to visit after working for a full year.
Odera Oruka. Sage philosophy: indigenous thinkers and modern debate on African philosophy. Leiden: BRILL publishers, 2012. Print.
Duell Mark. 'Forced to stand for 24 hours, suicide nets, toxin exposure and explosions': Inside the Chinese factories making iPads for Apple. Mail online. 20 September 2011. Web 27 January 2012
Peled Micha. China Blue. April 2007. Web Nov 1 2008
Bryan Peter. Work, happiness, and unhappiness. London: Routledge, 2007. Print.