Friday, June 11, 2010

The babies are HERE!

None of whom are mine. These are the babies in the Thomas Balmes sociocultural documentary "Babies."

This documentary filmed the first year of four babies in Namibia, Mongolia, San Francisco and Tokyo. There didn't appear to be a script, just comparison of different stages of the first year of each baby (sitting up, crawling, first foods, cruising, walking, talking etc.). There weren't any translations, which although at first was disappointing, I quickly realized was very appropriate for the objective of the film. The lack of translations or commentary left no space for judgment or presumtions and left every opportunity to observe and learn intact.

There were many many thought provoking scenes in the movie which is why I wanted to take my friends with me so we can one day discuss these things, many of which are social issues in our country. For example, the San Fran baby methodically peels away the pith from the banana (I don't know what that bitter thing is called that runs like a fuzzy vein between the meat and the peel) and doesn't chew the tough stem at the end of the meat. Meanwhile, in Mongolia and Namibia, the families make use of everything on an animal or vegetable because they cannot afford to throw anything away.

(At this point I'm losing half my mind and most of my other impressions that I wanted to share because I'm doozing on my laptop and really should be sleeping for my early morning run, but I'm being nice and finishing my post lolz)

Another thing I left the theater with was the realization, "what would our culture be like if like the Namibians, we considered a woman's breasts a source of food first and foremost?" In all the filming of the movie, the Namibian women were semi naked and their children had constant access to their mother's milk. I was actually repulsed in the beginning, but I came to realize that my repulsion is a taught behavior. I am TAUGHT to think "Ugh, would she put away those things already" when what she's really doing is just feeding her kid! And I actually began to feel a little envious.
That kind of non-attention would never fly in the West however, where people need an excuse to get naked even when they're never really doing anything beneficial with their exposed parts (like feeding a hungry baby.) The San Fran mom for instance, takes a skinny dip in a hot tub. On the roof top of her apartment. WHO THE HELL TAKES SKINNY DIPS IN ROOFTOP HOT TUBS?
Ok maybe many people do, but would they do it in front of rolling cameras? Where they'll have to get in AND out of it in front of a relative stranger? You're not breastfeeding your child and really did you have to be naked waist down in a tub you're sharing with your INFANT?

Yes, as you can tell, I had a problem with that. It was a total "what the fu..?" moment for me.
I hope it eventually becomes available on Netflix so in the future I can show Monster the Namibian scenes and make her appreciate her life in the West. Maybe I can threaten to send her there if she hangs out with the wrong type of boys.

Although I'm not sure if she'd actually hate it there.

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