UPDATE (9/27/11): Gah! I just watched this doc. Heartbreaking in so many ways. A factory-working couple’s best intentions are completely misinterpreted by their daughter. The family ends up estranged. And for what? The reality is China thrives on cheap labor. And for whom? They’re not even the beneficiaries of their own work. No health care. No time off. Low wages. Is the American desire for cheap clothes and products justifiable when it perpetuates such a low standard of life for Chinese workers? It’s easy to get all preachy, but an actual solution seems hard to come by. When factories close in China (as they apparently did after the ‘08 financial crisis), I imagine migrant workers suffer even more. What a sad cycle…
Just buy consciously, people. Know where your shit comes from. Recognize a product for what’s it’s really worth, even if it costs a bit more. Maybe that’s all we can do… for now, anyway.
‘Last Train Home' is airing on PBS' POV next Tuesday, Sept. 27.
PBS NewsHour interviewed Lixin Fan, the film’s director, here.
"When I started to work for television, as I see all the different aspects of this changing China, I more and more felt that the migrant workers are really the backbone of this country. They — I mean, we all know that China is so heavily dependent on its export. The Chinese economy is so heavily dependent on its export.
And behind the — all the made-in-China goods that every one of us consume here in the world are really the migrant workers. And you see how they sacrifice in all those different ways. They are — they have to leave their homeland and they have to leave behind their loved ones to toil in a factory that it’s probably of the worst condition, and get very low wage and no benefit, no welfare.
And they — they — they don’t get much payback. And that’s, to me, just not right. So, I think that’s essentially what — why I wanted to make this film.”