So here’s the viral video that’s been making the rounds on online news outlets and social media, on fashion blogs in particular. Lately a Norwegian newspaper has come up with the only reality show that makes even the tiniest bit of sense, as it is educational rather than mind-numbing like Keeping up with the Kardashians, for example. I’ve heard MTV used to make similar ones in its prime, but those have pretty much remained obscure if it was so. Thanks to the Internet – and to the fact that this little reality show is a web documentary series – the Aftenposten’s social experiment has gone as viral as it should.
It might seem ironic that it is fashion bloggers who share this the most (still not enough of them though), but I would like to join in on the trend. I think a fashion blog is the best place to raise awareness about the subhuman conditions in which others are forced to sew the clothes we wear for not even half of what we buy them for. The web documentary’s premise is the following: three popular, Norwegian fashion bloggers are sent to live and work in a sweatshop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. And what happens when Anniken, Frida and Ludvig experience a modicum of a Cambodian textile worker’s life?
Well, I don’t want to spoil it, you guys but…
THIS is what happens, in a nutshell, over their trip in Cambodia. It is no surprise, however. Watching the videos, seeing the conditions the laborers are forced to sew in is heartbreaking in itself. I would have the same reaction, as would most us if we were taken out of our large, comfortable homes and uprooted from our privileged upbringing and flown off in a plane to a third-world country. Because our upbringings are privileged, and no matter how bad we think we have it, there are people who have it worse than us in ways it is impossible for you to fathom. I think Anniken – who was the most indifferent to the suffering of textile workers in the beginning – puts it best: “You think you know. You think you know it’s bad. But you don’t know how bad it is before you see it.” And you truly don’t. And I couldn’t have imagined either. And watching it in a documentary is still different from seeing it in real life, and it doesn’t even compare to having to live the reality of being a Cambodian seamstress. As we watch the three youths’ journey in Cambodia, we are humbled and made to rethink our priorities and reevaluate the gravity of our problems.
The world is truly a terrible, terrible place for some people. We should be thankful for what we have. It sounds like such a cliché, but you know what they say about clichés: the reason they have been repeated so many times over time (and are still repeated to this day), and the reason they have become clichés is because they’re unchanging truths.
You can watch the documentary series in their original Norwegian with English subtitles here.
I am interested in hearing your opinions on the five episodes long documentary.