Smile Politely

China Blue Tonight at the Armory

As busy as we are, it’s easy to take things for granted. For instance, take those blue jeans you’re wearing. You go to the mall, find a pair that makes your ass look good and pay for them with your credit card. It never crosses your mind that they might have been made by a 15-year-old Chinese girl who works 20-hour shifts and earns six cents an hour, that is, if she ever gets a paycheck.

After seeing Micha Peled’s China Blue, you won’t be able to look at those prized denims in the same way again. This chronicle of one blue jeans factory in Shaxi, China pulls no punches in portraying the inhumane labor practices that occur in one such operation run by a former police chief who refers to his workers as “uneducated” and “low-caliber.” Peled’s camera captures the seemingly endless shifts these workers are forced to endure, while focusing on one teen, Jasmine, an excess-thread cutter whose naiveté will break your heart. While this film puts forth a sobering look at the downside of globalization, what proves to be truly shocking is that the dire conditions present in this plant are considered among the best in China.

China Blue airs tonight at 7 p.m. as part of the Asian Education Media Service’s film screenings at the Armory, Room 386, 505 E. Armory Ave., UIUC campus for no charge.

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