A few years ago, my agent asked me to come down to LA during pilot season and I arrived on Super Bowl Sunday.
I was staying at one of those short term residence complexes with all the amenities required for a pre-existing neighborhood experience. As such they were hosting a Super Bowl Party with a big screen, full service bar and buffet of goodies.
Like a lot of California companies, the service staff was Mexican. And as the residents cheered on their teams, knocked back cold ones and foraged the snack trays, the serving and bussing was done by people who didn’t have much personal connection to either football or the traditions of the day.
Later that night, I looked out my window to see a crowd of that same staff standing at a bus stop across that street that only saw a bus every two hours –- and less frequently on a Sunday.
At seven the next morning, they were all back at work.
Now we’ve all had shitty jobs. And no doubt all those people were happy to have some cash coming in. But you couldn’t escape the fact that a lot of us wouldn’t be living as well if they weren’t living as poorly.
One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about the “Spartacus” TV series is how it not so subtly draws the comparisons between our own time and the slave driven society of ancient Rome.
The world’s always been populated by predators and the preyed upon. And the sad reality is that all great societies only got that way through the suffering of others.
But we like to think we’re different. We’re more progressive. We’ve eliminated things like slavery.
Only we haven’t.
Last week, the New York Times ran an expose on the world’s richest company, Apple, juxtaposing their massive profits and world changing advancements in technology with the inhumane treatment of those who make their product.
Now Apple is far from the only company enjoying the benefits of manufacturing their product in China. But it’s clear they’re in a position to push back and make a difference.
But they don’t.
And as a result, neither does anybody else.
Indeed, an Apple exec responding to the Times article admitted that his customers are far more concerned about getting a new iPhone than working conditions in China.
Some of those users even insist that they own Apple products because it makes it easier for them to build a better world.
Only that’s not working.
This week, the Canadian Prime Minister will visit China to promote greater trade. In the past, he’s been very vocal about human rights violations by that country. This time most are expecting him to tone down the rhetoric because we need the jobs and the Chinese market.
Like that guy at Apple, Stephen Harper knows we care more about our own hides than those being flayed so we can enjoy lower prices at Walmart.
Apple first adopter. Walmart Shopper. No matter where you sit on the economic scale, you’re still not where those poor bastards are.
Recently, Al Jazeera, a news organization maligned or ignored by most of our own mainstream media debuted a series of programs about modern slavery.
They are powerful, thought provoking and hard to watch. But you need to see them if only to realize that what is happening in other parts of the world could, oh so easily, happen here.
That US Pilot season I attended turned out to be very good for Canada, with several series moving here. Where they stayed until it got cheaper to shoot them in Louisiana, Australia or Bulgaria.
There will always be someplace where people are desperate enough that they’ll live worse so you can think you’re living better.
Think about that while you’re watching the Superbowl. Drinking out of plastic cups that were real cheap for a reason. Wearing that team jersey you couldn’t believe was such a steal.
Try to pick out which of those million dollar commercials are selling you things made by millions of people who will never have one evening in their entire lives as flush as the one you’re having.
Enjoy the Super Bowl – and try to Enjoy Your Sunday.