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A charity made a video about a brown child being entranced by magical white men. Um?

Waterborne diseases kill over 700,000 children each year. The struggle to find and access clean drinking water is a major burden on the lives of some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. So charitable programs to provide clean water are a good cause and a good idea.

But that doesn't mean that this was a good idea:

Charities HurleyH20 and SurfAid Sumba decided to promote their clean-water charity project with a video shot in the style of filmmaker Wes Anderson. The video is narrated by a cheerful young Indonesian boy who discovers, on his home island's beach, some white male surfers, whom he watches in amazement until the surfers come to his village to install clean drinking water. Having watched it, I have some questions for the filmmakers:

  1. Given that Wes Anderson's movies focus primarily on white American men, and often portray non-white foreigners in stereotypical or exoticized ways, why did you think that was a good frame for your video about an American charity's work in Indonesia?
  2. Oh god did I just answer my own question?
  3. Yikes?
  4. So portraying the person you're trying to help as a naive native who becomes entranced by the all-powerful "ocean people" from your charity was, like, on purpose?
  5. Likewise, the decision to give him old-fashioned clothing and equipment, but kit the Americans out in high-tech surfing gear, thus making it look like he was literally stuck in the past and they are modern, that was not an accident?
  6. Yikes?
  7. And what is even the deal with the main character spending a full third of the video watching them through binoculars as they surf?
  8. Any chance it's a high-level metaphor for the surveillance state or something?
  9. Or is that giving you too much credit?
  10. Oh it definitely is 100 percent for sure giving you too much credit?
  11. This really is just a heartwarming tale of a young Indonesian boy who spends his days captivated by magical white men?
  12. Yikes?

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