Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

the Diamond Debate 2006 part 1- How Blood Diamond has me interested again…

Posted by Chris on December 15, 2006

I just saw Blood Diamond last night. Those of you that know me would not be surprised, since hearing my obnoxious proclamations my freshmen year that I would not be buying my wife a diamond, to my more sober and humble explanation my sophomore year that was less about me being cheap and much more about exploitation, consumerism, and a call of my conscience. Since then, however, the issue has not been in the forefront of my mind unless it came up in a conversation my stance, or if someone heard from someone else, and I felt the need to give an explanation.

Until now. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my first commercial for this movie. I don’t go see movies often (read: 2 or 3 a year) and did not necessarily plan to go watch it. But then I saw a cnn.com video explaining that the diamond industry had already prepared a response, diamondfacts.org, prior to the movie’s release. I heard Leo DiCaprio talking about the movie. Most importantly to this process, the Bushmen of the Kalihari reappeared in the news, asking for DiCaprio’s help in their legal battle to be returned to their traditional lands in Botswana. My sophomore year, I had read a powerful article on the Bushmen’s plight in the Ecologist magazine (which you can read here). I was astonished this matter had not been decided years before. And a few days ago it was announced that the Bushmen won their case! Unbelievable, a beautiful surprise.

All these things came together to give me a strong desire to go see the movie and that’s how I ended up there last night. I am no critic by any means, but I will say that I thought DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou were excellent. Hounsou I think was also in Gladiator. He’s a great actor, I’d like to see him do more movies like this (not to typecast him, but, to be in movies with an African or epic setting). I hope Hounsou wins an Oscar, he probably wouldn’t get a best actor nod but really did much more than your average supporting actor.

The movie was really good in my opinion. I was slightly annoyed at the underlying love story and almost thought the movie was going to end terribly but it did not. It is a violent movie- but that violence is not unrealistic or unprecedented. Because of my sensitivity to the diamond issue, I honestly watched the movie like it was real. I thought the rest of the night, and when I woke up, about Solomon Vandy and Dia his son and what they went through (Hounsou plays Vandy). I did not find it to go the route of sensationalism- yes, these things are sensational, but real. I fully believe that the diamond industry was complicit in willful ignorance (at best) to allowing blood diamonds to be sold prior to the recent reforms. It was no secret what was happening to the people who were living it.
This kind of movie leaves me paralyzed. I see stuff like this and I’m so angry! I feel so useless! I just want to go to the airport and hop a plane and go do something, but what? The next entry will include a simple response I made to the diamond facts web site. A third entry will include some thoughts on what I think we can do as Americans/consumers/young adults/people with relatively no influence, besides writing in to an anonymous web site email address. And I’ll make a fourth entry that I’ll continually update with links to articles on diamond issues.

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