December 3, 2012

Up the Yangtze

Before viewing this film I assumed that this was going to be a mundane film that one views in a scholastic setting, but I was wrong. Up the Yangtze was a very interesting film that I found thought provoking. The film covered what we were learning at the time (which was her intention) and brought up some of the former rhetorical theories we have discussed throughout the semester. The terms that we just went over that were prevalent throughout the film were alterity and hegemony. Alterity means the fact of being other or different, otherness. Hegemony means the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group. Each of these terms can be found on many levels of the film.

 The film itself is about the Chinese government forcefully moving residents by the Yangtze river out of their homes by the building of the Three Gorges Dam, which in itself is hegemony. The film decides to focus on this situation from the point of view of a cruise ship that shows the transition from rural farm land to a more urbanized way of living. It also focuses on two subjects. One is named "Cindy" and the other is named "Jerry." These are not their real names but are given American names by the cruise ship captain to allow them to seem more familiar to the passengers of the cruise ship. This is a small form of hegemony that is shown in the film. The two subjects quite different because they come from different walks of life. Cindy comes from a poor farming family where she is the only literate member of her family and Jerry comes from a middle class to lower middle class family where he is familiar with English and all members are literate. This showcases the idea of alterity since the subjects are of different ways of life and personality. The ideas of otherness are shown in different aspects like the conversation that the more senior girls on the ship had about Cindy and her life style and personality habits, Jerry's seriousness put into question because of his personality and how it is different from the other workers. After viewing this film and seeing alterity and hegemony in real life situations, I have decided to include alterity in my expansion of my short critical discussion for my final project.

1 comment:

Katie Latchford said...

I think your evaluation of the film is pretty accurate in terms of what was being communicated through the film and what we were looking for as a class from watching it. I thought the usages of alterity and hegemony were interesting because they were often interchangeable depending on who was being "othered" in the film. For example, when they were taking the viewpoint of "cindy" and the people on the boat were seen as the "others," and then the narrator changing the viewpoint where the people saw the Chinese as "others" as they were being entertained on the boat. The film did a great job showcasing these terms and I think you pointed that out pretty well.

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