I Am Because We Are – **1/2

Posted: January 9, 2012 in 2008, Documentary, USA, XX1/2



Just saw the documentary that Madonna ‘made’ about the struggle of life in Malawi, her favorite African country. I’m sure Madonna means well with raising awareness for the problems of Malawi, but for some reason it bothered me a lot that she presented it. First of all: her voice. I love Madonna as an artist and a self-made woman, but she has a very monotonous and nasal voice that annoyed me to death. Secondly:  you hear Madonna tell her personal views and stories and you’re thinking: where did she sleep when she visited the area? which malaria pills did she take? why did she chose David and not any other boy to adopt?

What I’m saying is: you think too much about Madonna and not about what the documentary is all about: a country bound to just really stay one of the worst places on earth.

The documentary is over and you’re left with a bad feeling. “I Am Because We Are” is a Malawian expression that basically means that we are all united in this world and we can only solve its problems if we all work together. Well, I’m a pessimist, so I know that won’t work. You can try, but it won’t work. So why try? This is a necessary documentary and people will be upset after seeing it, but will the viewer start doing something? I don’t think so. And are we really all connected? If so, than we should question our every day life and that of others around us. I’m sure Madonna is surrounded by people who take cocaine on parties and don’t realize that taking cocaine is indirectly causing several people to get killed in the drug wars in Mexico and Columbia and so on. That has nothing to do with Malawi, but it crossed my mind. I’m sure a kid who lost his parents in a drug shoot out thinks the same ‘I am because we are’. The situation in Malawi is fucked up. I already knew this before this documentary. Is this documentary going to solve anything? Probably not. It will bring more awareness, but it’s 2012 and the country hasn’t really changed that much since the movie was shot.

I wasn’t so touched by this documentary as I should have been. It intrigued me and I stopped doing whatever I was doing to actually sit down and watch it. But I remember a documentary like ‘Promises’ about children in Israel and Palestine and I remember having really been upset when that documentary finished. Maybe I’ve become too cynical and unable to get touched by all the miseries in the world that I can’t solve anyways. Or maybe the documentary maker just didn’t edit it well enough so that I’d really be hit hard. That said, I did appreciate a lot that it’s not a good news show and it’s also no cheap emo awareness bs. Plus it tackled several subjects that I wasn’t aware of before, like the mutilation of children in name of superstition. t really respected the fact that the makers decided to also show that some people just love being the victim and don’t want to make something better of their life because they don’t want to admit that they have a problem. And I also appreciated that Madonna makes the viewer clear that we (from the West) shouldn’t think in terms like ‘it’s all better in the Western world’.

However, as she’s saying things like ‘people are happy here regardless of the diseases and people in Beverly Hills are sad regardless of their wealth’ you can’t help imagining her getting off the plane in LA from Malawi and heading straight to the Gucci store. So Madonna, in all her efforts, ruins this documentary.

You can actually see the whole movie on youtube:

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