A Russian boy being accepted into the present-day-equivalant of the Hitler Youth
An Inuit boy taken on a seal-hunitng expedition/initiation
Twins from Chicago having their Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem
A Dominican Republic girl at her 'debutante ball' on board a cruise ship
A Japanese girl being accepted into the sisterhood of the Geisha
An Islamic girl getting an education in Malaysia
A Ugandan boy undergoing his rite-of-passage circumcision (without anaesthetics)
A Chinese girl training in the People's Army at a summer camp
I missed most of this programme, but I switched on for the end of it. The BBC are exploring rites of passage for various peoples across the world. I mentioned not long ago that I'm very interested in anthropology and cultural studies. What this programme showed me however, was how limited my knoweldge is. I had no idea Geisha society was still such as strong a focal point among the Japanese as it is, or that quasi-militaristic bodies like this existed in Russia. I've been to Moscow and (at the time) Leningrad (now St Petersburg), I saw the things that were referred to in this show - the refugee influx leading to begging on the streets at every turn, the huge shortages, the fucking lanes set aside for government and 'priveldged' cars on the streets. I understand where the boy who joined the militaristic group in Moscow was coming from.
That scares me.
The people featured on this show were teenagers, or just coming into their teenage years. These people are the future of this world. The things they were saying, the thoughts expressed, worry me.
"If we spent our lives in a military camp, we'd all be the same. We couldn't think freely. I can imagine that. But it's not for me." - the Chinese girl said that just after she got out of the military summer camp.
That almost gives me hope, but then I remember the boy in Moscow. With just as much logic on his face, saluting the flag of the militaristic sect he's just joined.
Am I being overly-dramatic? Am I falling into the trap the BBC laid for me with the presentation of this programme? The media graduate in me is very aware of the editing process that went on in this, the attempt to present a specific viewpoint. Does that knowledge make me too suspicious? Probably. Is there an ulterior motive in the presentation of this programme? Probably.
Either way, it's fascinating to me. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/this_world/4271015.stm
is the site which has links to the profiles on all the teenagers involved.