John And Jane

Via, Pardon My Hindi, a documentary by Ashim Ahluwalia on the cultural effects of globalization:

Part documentary and part fiction feature, "John & Jane" is a film set in the call centers of Mumbai that explores the effects of globalization on six call agents. Indian by day and American by night, the employees' split-identity lives warp their sense of reality in a disturbing way.

"For me, the idea of virtual "call agents" with fake American identities who talked on the phone all night seemed straight out of science fiction," says "John & Jane" director Ashim Ahluwalia. "I imagined that this job must have some odd psychological side effects, because it is quite a bizarre job if you think about it." Along with donning American aliases, the call agents must attend accent neutralization classes, watch Hollywood movies, and study American shopping flyers as part of their "cultural training." The six employees featured in the film represent different shades of distorted reality--from those who hate the job to those who love it to the point of abandoning their Indian identity. The most startling character is the re-named Naomi, a Gujarati girl who bleaches her skin and hair and speaks with an American accent even outside working hours.

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My wife is a first

My wife is a first generation American. My in-laws immigrated here from India back in the 70s. Anyhow, she (and many others like her) grew up going to public schools with Americans and returning home to a family steeped in Indian tradition. If anything, I think the added diversity of culture has made her a more well-rounded individual.

Diversity of experience results in turmoil only insomuch as it creates cultural options that require choice: which culture is more beneficial to follow under scenario x? What about scenario y? By having more options to choose from, the culture you ultimately create is more likely to be beneficial on all fronts. You end up with the "best of both worlds."

I'm sure the situation is different for these workers, but I imagine in most cases, globalization of culture will be positive.

Well, at least no one is

Well, at least no one is pointing a gun to their head. Unlike the gun held to US employers, who can't hire all the idle 'workers' sitting on welfare because their skills are below min wage. Globalization is inevitable, but it certainly does not need to be accelerated by stupid policies.

This is fascinating to me

This is fascinating to me the way transvestitism is fascinating. I'm curious to see these Indians to a perfect imitation of American, much as I am interested when I see men do a highly convincing imitation of women. Yeah, okay, I'm kinky, so sue me. However, from the description, one gets the sense that the director isn't so much fascinated by these cultural cross-dressers as bothered by them.

As far as some of them hating their jobs. Welcome to the real world. There are a lot of things I'd rather be doing than my job. That's why the incentive of a salary is required. Maybe someone should do a documentary about how I spend eight hours a day behaving in a way in which I would not behave in a hundred years if no one were paying me to do it. Maybe talking for hours on end in an assumed accent is un-authentic, but I don't think my job is all that much more authentically "me".

Maybe it is just me, but I

Maybe it is just me, but I find the fake name and accent incredibly annoying, especially when it is someone cold calling to try and sell me something. I tend to hang up now whenever I hear someone with an Indian accent tell me their name is John or suchlike. In fact, I actually listened properly when I was called recently by an Indian woman who used her real name. It just seemed a lot more straightforward and honest.

I grew up with plenty of Indian and Pakistani friends and neither I nor they had a problem with using their real names (in fact it was useful to have some different names, I remember knowing 15 Matthews at one point!). I find it patronising that it is assumed both that I will not be able to tell when someone is lying to me (even if that is sometimes the case!) and also that I would be unable to deal with someone who does not have a generic Anglo-Saxon name. Quite apart from anything else it is sometimes as hard to understand Geordies (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geordie) as it is to understand someone on the subcontinent.

Constant, you're second paragraph makes a very good point.