Thinking Differently on Steve Jobs’ Legacy: the Struggle of Chinese Labor Reform | dGenerate Films:
Shu Haolun’s 2001 documentary Struggle calls attention to some of the most egregious damages enacted by the factory system: the neglect of wounded workers. After arriving in Shenzen as idealistic young job seekers, the three subjects of Shu’s film suffered similarly careless factory accidents brought on by overwork-induced exhaustion that robbed them of their limbs, rendering them jobless and powerless to retaliate against their former employers. With the help of an altruistic lawyer, Zhou Litai, a former factory worker and devoted advocate for migrant rights reform, the three victims have sought compensation, but the climate for injured migrants remains resolutely crooked. The supply of workers in China far outweighs the demand, Zhou reasons for atrocious working conditions and a lackadaisical approach to injured workers, and people become disposable.
Films like Struggle and media coverage of incidents like the Foxconn suicides—as well as a recent documentary project entitled Dreamwork China offering a more personal portrait of the ambitions and travails of ba-ling-hou and jiu-ling-hou (born in the 80s and 90s) Foxconn workers—endeavor to increase public awareness of this manufacturing framework as a human rights necropolis steadily cranking out goods for global consumption, but much responsibility is being shirked by the very corporations who commission these goods. Steve Jobs was a busy man with a future to design, but, by most recent accounts, he was not a man shy of self-aware, self-critical reflection. As a CEO, Steve Jobs served a symbol of his company: the Apple with a missing bite embodying the lowliest workers to the Silicon Valley bigwigs to the products they so proudly turned out. Remembering a man whose life and work made such strides to connect people and use technology to improve lives, it’s also worth recognizing the intense hardships— coupled with an undeniable struggle for basic human rights, voices, and social progress—withstood by those who supported the most essential infrastructure of his corporation.