EFFECTIVENESS OF DETROPIA
Economic,sociocultural, and religious events affect how human beings conducttheir daily lives. The United States of America have gone through alot of changes since the arrival of Europeans to date. These changeshave affected how citizens interact with each other and engage inproductive activities either positively or negatively. Art and mediahave been used since the ancient times to document various aspects ofhuman beings. Detropia is a documentary film that shows thetransitions Detroit City has gone through over the years. It presentsthe story of a slowly crumbling city that was one the fastest growingcities and an industrial hub in the world (YouTube, 2012). Althoughthe film shows transitions of Detroit during and after itsindustrialization, I think that Detropia is not effective since itpresents an incomplete story of this city. This paper purposes todiscuss the effectiveness of Detropia in capturing events that led tothe fall of the great American city.
The success of Detropia
Thedocumentary shows abandoned houses along, deserted streets, anddemolition of several buildings. This state shows the movement ofresidents out of the city to suburbs and other areas of the country. The city mayor proposes that residents to be confined to one area sothat the remaining large and unoccupied area can be turned into alarge-scale urban farmland. However, remnants of the city oppose thismove due to fear of segregation that their forefathers went through.The mayor argues that the city is economically derailed and peopleneed income-generating activities (YouTube, 2012). I support theproposal since it will make the remaining residents stronger andactive economically. Securing them when they are consolidated iseasier than when they are scattered throughout the city. A largepercentage of the city’s economic activities are no more due to theclosure of various factories and businesses that influenced thefinancial position of Detroit. The unoccupied part of the city can beturned into a productive farmland that will provide employment to thepopulation. The consolidation is appropriate if only it does not aimat segregated the residents based on their races.
Thefilm presents economic decline and unemployment in the cityeffectively. There are quiet manufacturing plants, closed stores, andwarehouses in various parts of Detroit. The only running businessesas shown in Detropia are scrap metal, bar, and the Opera Housetheater. Companies outsourced thousands of jobs to Mexico and closedtheir offices in Detroit. There is no job security for workers in thecity. George McGregor, the president of Auto Workers union, urgesemployees to accept a pay cut or the company close their productivityactivities. I think Detropia successfully captured the reaction ofemployees towards pay cut. Workers feel that their efforts are noappreciated. According to Graduate Management Admission Council(2014), the reduction of wages is a strategy that factories use toreduce production costs and price their products competitively. Therising cost of production has made American products expensive.
Detropiaexplains how the high rate of unemployment was responsible for thereduction of the middle-class population. As employment opportunitiesdiminish, the number of poor people increases dramatically, and thegap between wealthy individuals and the poor widens (Carter, 2014).When the factory I work for closes its operation, I will look for anopportunity somewhere else so that I can afford my lifestyle. Thereare some who may engage in criminal activities robbery and drugtrafficking to generate income. It is only a revolution that willbring the proportion of middle class back to normal. The decline ofDetroit only raises the alarm for other cities that may go throughthe same experience. Tommy Stephens, the owner of Raven Lounge,points out Florida has also started experiencing economic issues suchas unemployment as Detroit did. I support his argument that thecapitalist system of USA is responsible for what happened in Detroit.Capitalism places power in the hands of a few individuals who candecide to raise prices. It can result in monopsony power wherecompanies can lower wages to workers as witnessed in Detropia.According to Nkumunue (2014), the capitalist system creates a highinequality between firm owners and employees. Owners of manufacturingplants exploit and do not pay their employees fairly.
Thedocumentary also highlights how the price of American products ishigher than those produced in other countries. The Chinese electriccar model BYD costs $20,000 while Volt, an American product car,costs $40,000. I would like to buy American products to promote ourindustries. However, the prices of our products scare me. If aforeign product is half the cost of a domestic product, I will buythe cheaper one. I don’t think that China is more advanced thanAmerica. Detropia is effective in showing how our country is slowlybecoming a consumer rather than a producer. From my view, we have ourhead in the sand regarding trade and business. I think our policiesare responsible for unemployment, the high cost of production andexpensive domestically produces goods. The city can solve theproblems it experiences by modifying policies to make them flexibleenough to attract investment activities and assure residents securityin the area (Yetkiner, Pamukcu & Erdil, 2013).
Iconcur with Detropia’s emphasis on the need for more and bettereducation. The documentary describes the closure of schools in thecity as unfair to the city residents and damaging to the economy ofDetroit. Schools offer a conducive environment where we acquireknowledge and skills to make us economically useful in the society.Becker & Lewis (2013) argue that better education will result ina higher degree of creativity and innovation among members of apopulation. However, there is no need for education if there are noavenues where we can apply the skills and knowledge we acquired inschools. The creation of employment opportunities should be givenpriority.
Weaknesses of Detropia
Iagree with Detropia that the erosion of manufacturing plants andbusinesses caused the emigration of the city dwellers and the slowdecline of the city. However, it does not point out the political andsocial issues that played significant roles in the downfall ofDetroit. This urban area has a history of racial tensions andsegregation of a Black populated city from surrounding suburbs mostlypopulated by Whites. According to Seawood A. (2013), racialdiscrimination played a significant role in the flight of Whites intothe suburbs. This process led to the increase in the number ofabandoned houses in the city. In the 1950’s, the population ofDetroit city was as high as 1.8 million. The movement of people outof the city resulted in a population of about seven hundred thousandpeople. Some young people moved to Detroit Downtown because theyfound it cheaper to buy goods and services compared to other areas.
Frommy point of view, the 1967 riots and the election of Mayor ColemanYouth, an African-American, in 1973 intensified racial tension andincreased emigration from the city. After the election, the tactic ofinsurance redlining resulted in the sudden rise of the cost of livingfor residents and operating a business in the city (Seawood, 2013).The media also heighten the rate of flight from the city through themisrepresentation of crime rates in the city and suburbs. Crime inthe city was depicted as violent while those in the surrounding areasas cautionary. Detropia does not capture political factors, drugtrafficking and corruption that also contributed to the decline ofDetroit.
Detropia does notbring out the complete story of the scrambling of the great Detroitcity. It provides the picture of the current state of the city. Thepresent day Detroit is a result of factors such as the movement ofpeople out of this area, closure of manufacturing plants, andunemployment as depicted in Detropia. The film was successful inpresenting the need for education, employment, high prices ofAmerican products, and effect of capitalism on the society. Detropiafailed to capture the contribution of racial tension, 1967 riots, thepolitics, corruption, drug trafficking and criminal activities to thedecline of Detroit. From my point of view, the phenomenon the cityexperienced might be replicated in other cities in the United Statesof America.
Becker, W. E., & Lewis, D. R. (2013). Higher Educationand Economic Growth. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
Bob Carter, Capitalism, Class Conflict and the New Middle Class(RLE Social Theory), Routledge
Graduate Management Admission Council (2014), The official guidefor GMAT review 2015. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons
Nkumunue, J. B. (2014). NEW THEORY and PRACTICE ofCAPITALISM: New Market Theory, Investment, and the Path to End theGlobal Economic Crisis. PARTRIDGE
Seawood A. (2013), What’s Wrong With ‘Detropia’ – ADetroit Resident’s Perspective, Retrieved fromhttp://www.indiewire.com/2013/05/whats-wrong-with-detropia-a-detroit-residents-perspective-167731/,Accessed on 22 March 2017
Yetkiner, I. H., Pamukcu, M. T., & Erdil, E. (2013). Industrialdynamics, innovation policy, and economic growth throughtechnological advancements. Hershey, PA: Information ScienceReference.
YouTube (2012), Detropia English Movie, Retrieved fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7vJA9AVvdQ,Accessed on 22 March