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American Factory (Netflix)

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In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.

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I saw this documentary last night and OMG it was fascinating!

Some things that stayed with me:

·         The expectations that Fuyao brought to Ohio.  These people were so hopeful that this was the replacement to their Ford jobs and the realization hit when the pay and conditions didn’t match what they remembered in the past.

·         The one sad thing that bothered me a lot was the comments from the top down the Chinese had of the Americans.  You hear “lazy”, “fat fingers”, “We are better than them”, to the Chairman commenting in Chinese that an automated robotic will replace 4 workers in the future.  There was a lot through the film. 

·         Could have been editing but I didn’t get this from the Americans side. There weren’t any derogatory about the Chinese.  The most you heard was about why were the pro-Fuyao videos from China being shown on the tv’s, to when they walked into the plant it was like being in China and the American’s were referred as foreigners. 

·         I was very appalled at the American who was a delegate over in China and spoke fluent Chinese and how he basically agreed with the Chinese on how American’s are lazy, talk to much and wish he could “duct tape their mouths”

·         Wong was my favourite storyline.  I loved the fact that he sympathized with the Americans to the point he understood these people were working 2 jobs and even struck up a close friendship with the older American gentleman.  I didn’t understand on how he was able to afford a home and such in the States with 14$/hour while the Americans couldn’t even afford an apartment. Unless he had a foreman job.

·         My least favourite was the woman who sacrificed her livelihood for joining the Union and being pro Union.  I understand the need for a union, but I felt that she could have at least tried to work with the company and management first to see if they can improve conditions before immediately turning to a Norma Rae. (commenting just on the storyline that I saw, not on unions in general).

·         The sad fact that Chairman fired everyone who was pro union.  That was wrong.

·         The amount of money ($1million) that Fuyao spent to shut down the union which could have been better spent to appease the employees but making the work culture better, increase wages and work conditions.  I don’t think the Chinese ever really understood that there are laws in place in the States that they need to follow regarding work conditions, hours, pay and overtime.

·         There was a lot of US and THEM from both sides – this was a mistake that was made by Fuyao from day 1.  Instead of integrating both cultures and encouraging mixtures at all levels – they basically filled management positions with the Chinese after a year. 

I know I have more, but this is off the top of my head. 

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I thought it was interesting how Different the 2 cultures are.  Americans are used to speaking their mind & having their own opinions, whereas the Chinese are used to a regimented society and being told what to think & what to do.  There just seemed to be no 'meeting in the middle" with these 2 groups.  I don't think the Chinese Chairman guy made any attempt to understand the Americans, he just wanted things done His way & for him to make a profit.  I also enjoyed the short interview at the end with Barack & Michelle Obama & the producers of this film.

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I was looking through the new threads list and came across this. I'm watching it now. Both heartwarming (the chinese and american employees bonding) and tragic.

I think of this as similar to what the US does to other countries. Cheap labor, and no consideration about toxic waste. A lot of derogatory things said about Americans is often true. That one scene when they were in China, with the workers, it was very military. The guy who tried to implement it in the US was not at all successful.

A very well done and interesting documentary.

 

Edited by nokat · Reason: added thoughts
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On 9/2/2019 at 9:29 PM, BuckeyeLou said:

 I don't think the Chinese Chairman guy made any attempt to understand the Americans, he just wanted things done His way & for him to make a profit.  I also enjoyed the short interview at the end with Barack & Michelle Obama & the producers of this film.

Exactly.  It was really evident when he came first to the factory and wanted the garage door on the other side, the smoke alarm placed elsewhere and no bandstand covering because "the weather in October will be just like today".  

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46 minutes ago, greekmom said:

Exactly.  It was really evident when he came first to the factory and wanted the garage door on the other side, the smoke alarm placed elsewhere and no bandstand covering because "the weather in October will be just like today".

I think he mentioned feng shui, as in the door was opening in the wrong direction. Very cultural.

(Also heard the commentary about "that'll cost $35,000")

 

Edited by nokat
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