Born into Brothels: Imperialism in one of its many forms
Born into Brothels (Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman 2006) is a critical analysis of an Oriental culture. Through the eyes of Edward Said, filmmakers from a hegemonic Western society choose to portray a group of children of a different race to raise awareness to their environment and lifestyle. However, according to bell hooks, Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman must question whether the film is viewed as cultural appreciation or cultural appropriation. Using emotionally driven motifs, the filmmakers amplify the children’s desire for a more stable and productive future. The music and editing techniques complement the film’s narration by controlling viewers and allowing them to witness eight young lives that look to outsiders for liberation. The juxtapositions of the children, their parents, and the brothels allow the filmmakers to successfully present their Western views. Born into Brothels (2006) manufactures the concept of normalcy and it is this repetition of representing the “other” as invisible or disabled that is important to reproducing and maintaining dominating ideas.
A fundamental motif in the film is the presentation of alternative lifestyles. For example, during several interviews, the children express their desires to escape the brothels. In particular, Avijit paints to show his longing for a better lifestyle and to physically display his mental images. Gour’s interview also supports this motif. He speaks of the brothels being filthy and his photos are driven to show the world how “man” lives. Gour’s expression to change how they live fuels the filmmakers in embedding their ideologies of the proper environment for children. While realizing that the parents want to provide for their children, the filmmakers depiction of the parents still question their efforts. In the commentary Briski asserts, “It’s an inherently abusive place. It’s not that the mothers don’t love their...