Sunday, April 17, 2005

The horror.

I read this article in my local paper last week, and I had my usual reaction to local news articles: exasperation at the depth of human stupidity and naivete. This is the story of a little girl in a nearby town who opened the package of a brand new Barbie doll, and found a plastic card with the photograph of a young, Chinese female and some characters of Chinese writing. Translators at the Unviversity of Michigan discovered that the card is a factory ID card for a young female working the night shift. The number 12 appears on the card, and it is speculated that the female in the photograph is 12 years old.

Now, assuming you are a reasonably intelligent, thinking person, would your reaction upon finding this item in box of a Barbie you just purchased for your daughter be "maybe the doll belongs to this girl"? No, of course it wouldn't! Factory workers don't own the things in the factory, dumbass. If you were a rational, thinking person your reaction would be "Holy Shit! I just bought my kid a toy manufactured by child labor! Good god, I'm never again buying another Matel product!"

The article pondered whether the card dropped in accidently, which is perfectly plausible, or whether it had been put there deliberately "for reasons known only to [the girl]." Apparently it never occured to the author of the article that the reason might be a hope that the card might have been put there to send the message "Help! I'm 12 years old and I'm working a night-shift in a toy factory where I constantly inhale toxic fumes from the plastic all night long and I'm barely paid enough to feed myself! Please, will some rich American (which is redundant, because if you're a 12-year-old girl in China employed in what is effectively slave labor than all Americans are pretty much rich by comparison) do something to save me?!?" No, it never occured to anyone that if the card was put there deliberately that it may well have been done to send a message.

Rather than denounce the inhumanity of child labor (which as I stated earlier is effectively slave labor, where children work in dangerous and inhuman condidtions for paltry compensation which will keep them in a dire financial postition so they are never able to move on), the article chose to glorify factory women who were renouned for their Barbie-like beauty. My god, you couldn't do a better gloss job with a tub of turtle wax and a can of shellack.

I am disappointed, but sadly not surprised, to learn that merchandise on American store shelves is the product of child labor. I am mortified that no one seems to give a shit, particularly the media, whose moral obligation it is to bring such issues to the attention of the general public.

1 comment:

ZB said...

I also abhor the use of child labour. Now that everyone is using it, it is very hard to find good cheap kids...

With thanks to Jboy...