Nothing gets me more mad than a Julia Roberts bad film. Not saying I don’t like her at all (Mona Lisa Smile is a great film!) but god has her agent put her in some bad films recently (Timothy Green comes to mind). However, I think the worse movie she has been cast in was EAT PRAY LOVE. MY GOD that movie makes me angry. Typical clichéd unhappily married woman goes to Italy and India to try to find herself and magically gets transformed into a better person.
I don’t know the real story behind this so I’m just commenting on what the movie gave me. Not that there’s anything wrong on wanting to leave a marriage but why does one need to go on this international journey to find oneself? Because in reality everyone eventually settles into a routine no matter where you are. Escaping won’t change the problem. Not saying traveling isn’t a good thing, I love traveling, but using other people and other cultures as a tool to make yourself feel special is just wrong. And Eat Pray Love isn’t the only one to do it. At the end of Masters of None (another show I love/SPOILER ALERT) Dev and his girlfriend (separately) go on "life changing" journeys to Italy and Japan respectively. There’s nothing wrong with that except they’re doing it so they can feel as though they’re living their life to the fullest. I just don’t get why they feel that another culture can change their life when in reality you’ll always be who you are. It’s the Eat Pray Love fantasy that gives us shallow and superficial posts about studying abroad, finding yourself, and coming back a "new and cultured" person (as long as you have money) when in reality you’re the same damn person you’ve always been. This phenomenon usually happens more often when one goes to what is seen as a "3rd world country" which is what I will be discussing next.
The labels of 3rd and 2nd world are really problematic. Mainly because it’s saying that there’s only one road to progress and only one standard of living when in reality people live however best they can with wherever they are given. Of course, there are basic human living conditions that everyone should have access to but don’t such as running water, food, shelter, clothing, education, medical care, electricity etc. Unfortunately, not many people in the world have access to these things but calling them "lesser" is wrong because it’s not their fault and you going there and using their poverty as a tool lift you up and say to yourself "Wow, I'm so lucky to have been blessed with what I have. I'll never take my privilege for granted again" or to say "Wow, these people are so poor but still happy" is wrong. Rather than trivializing what they don’t have and labeling them inferior because of it, think about what they do have and how to help them maybe get what they need. Also realize that there are different living standards throughout the world and some people can be just as happy with nothing than you are with things that cost their life savings. Realize that we’re all sharing the world together and that there is no 3rd or 2nd world but only this one earth that we all should strive to make better rather than using someone else’s struggle as a way for you to have an ego trip.
Lastly, the problem of the term "American." In the US we don’t call ourselves United Statians but American which is a huge problem because America is not a country but a continent. The people who we’re sharing the continent with have other names for us rather than American but as a United Statian because we don’t represent all of America so why are we calling ourselves American? Using that name to exclusively reference the US without giving a damn about the rest of the continent is really misleading and trivializing. So let’s start trying new ways to reference ourselves and if United Statian doesn’t catch on maybe just "I’m from the US" will be enough.
23 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.