The point is not simply that, since our racial differences do not constitute all of us, we are always different, negotiating different kinds of differences — of gender, of sexuality, of class. It is also that these antagonisms refuse to be neatly aligned; they are simply not reducible to one another; they refuse to coalesce around a single axis of differentiation. We are always in negotiation, not with a single set of oppositions that place us always in the same relation to others, but with a series of different positionalities. Each has for us its point of profound subjective identification. And that is the most difficult thing about this proliferation of the field of identities and antagonisms: they are often dislocating in relation to one another.”- Stuart Hall
Reeked by the things in life that simply refuse to subdue, we are constantly faced with the challenge of not having enough and more often than not, these things continue than not, these issues continue to put people and separate people of different classes. A quote borrowed from the bible says, you will always have the poor amongst you. There seems to be a certain status quo, that nature has seemed to maintain that most people cannot change and whenever they try to, they would always end up out of place; very people can really rise the ranks and be able to maintain it up there.
In the Slum dog Millionaire, Ram has a great triumph, participating in an Indian TV quiz show, and he is able to answer all the questions, the twelve of them, he gets arrested for this particular feat, the police and the authorities thinking that he cheated. He then begins to tell his story and explains that it has always been the experiences of his life that successfully enabled him to answer the questions. In line with Stuarts reasoning, having come from what could be regarded as a poor background, Ram is faced with the challenge of having to explain to the authorities as well as the society how, a poor and uneducated guy like him could be able to answer such questions and now has to be accommodated among the crème de la crème of the society because he is now a millionaire.
The key theme I would like to address here is one of childhood. This is a theme that is firstly talked about/ discussed from a child’s perspective. A child speaking out would simply mean one thing, they are speaking from a level of naïve understanding of the truth. The write of the book takes us through the whole book while he keeps referring to Ram’s childhood. He seems to be painting the picture that to be a child, one life in a world free, even when living in some sort of enclosure, such as a prison. In relation to the theme that has been set by Hall, one literally requires the mind of a child to be able to maintain the sort of freedom that a child has. Thinking like an adult or understanding the adversaries that one is faced with, then one is sent back to the position of having to reconcile and having to renegotiate his/ her societal standing and cannot be able to dream without being dogged by the thought that there are so many things that they have to deal with before they can rise to the level of being a socialite.
A very weird but a deep truth is the fact that to live, without any sort of power makes one a king, at least one is able to survey all. The powerlessness, gives than the freedom that no one else otherwise would have been able to attain. The very truth that power corrupts and is able to hold one hostage. This again seems to emphasize that the realization that one is at a certain level of class, seems to plague the adults and as a result, it was the fact that most often than not, the war is not won because one feels that they are limited by their class, something that is not in the minds of the children.
The children is the book and later brought to life in the movies, they are faced with the reality of scavenging out of the rubbish dump, from where they make their livelihood and yet these same children embrace joy and their pearls of laughter are heard all over. Such innocence is bliss and honestly being an adult, and having to understand that there are certain boundaries and troubles, is a prison indeed. Honestly, no one can tell the difference between these children and those born out of the wealthy families. To them, everything is fine and whatever they have, they are content, maybe they seem to be portraying a premonition that there lives will never change, unless at the streak of very rare luck and they seem to be enjoying life just where they are no matter their issues.
The other angle I would like to look at this issue of childhood is as with regards to poverty that seems to be quite liberating because affluence on the other hand is equally holding hostage. The very instance that Jamal does not go to the show to be able to become a millionaire for the money but rather because he is doing it to be able to help his girlfriend, Latika, to be able to rescue her from oppression. There seems to be the challenge that sometimes money is not necessarily bad, it can be used to buy some things and in this case, it would be able to help out the girlfriend. Basically what is means is that some circles cannot really be penetrated when there is no cash and it may be important to work hard for the same.
The very instance that children are denied, helps the household very little because it is in the power of the little ones to be able to liberate the society in due time. Once they have learnt the right approaches, then they will be able to act as the negotiators in the societies and hence they will adequately help in the liberation of it.
However affluence comes at its cost and this is the advantage of living in a disadvantaged community. The children are allowed to risk and in this case, the children are able to ride on the roof of the train. This is able to teach them some basic life skills that will not be at the disposal of the affluent in the society. The children are also playing unsupervised. This then begs the question, are the children of the affluent community/ society denied too much childhood. This however tends to bring the balance between the two and it is necessary to be able to find a way to reconcile the two.
Differences, whether racially or as a result of gender, sexuality as well as class is always present and a cannot simply be waved away and there is need to be constantly open to the idea of reconciling these differences in our situations. There is need to embrace each other while doing the same because not each society has everything. While the affluent has everything in term of material wealth, the not so affluent seem to compliment this by being able to still live free of so many restraints and given the freedom they need, they too can teach a thing or two from the rich.
The differences we face refuse to be simply waved away. It takes deliberate effort to be able to accommodate anyone of a different class, gender as well as sexuality and sometimes one constantly needs to renew their minds. These differences as well cannot be simply reduced or forced to coalesce around a single axis of differentiation, the war is constantly against different positions, what it simply means is that the war is a complex one that has to be deliberately addressed, to be able to get past the antagonisms that face us every day and at the same time to be able respect each other despite the different classes of livelihood, the opinions we hold and the different belief systems that we are artisan to, it requires that the wars within be fought adequately that will be manifested on the outside, at the same time keeping in mind that the way is very complex. When all is said and done, it boils down to simple a day at a time.
Faced with the complexities of life, there is a need to be able to fight as well. Life is not as easy and more often than not, we become judged based on where we come from and what we have been able to achieve, it is not fair and so as often as we have the opportunity, it is important to insist that our strengths indeed lie in out differences and hence we can always learn something from someone else.
- Thinking Allowed, “Hole in the wall”, BBC Radio 4, January 21, 2009
- ^Stuart Jeffries (16 January 2009). The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-01-20.