Tabby (
Sat, 07 Oct 2000 20:41:39 -0700

>I'm not nearly enough of an idealist to believe that a boycott of
>Chinese-manufactured toys is feasible, or that it would even make any kind
>of difference. China is still a very insular country and extremely resentful
>of outside meddling. If their prison population were not being put to work
>for the sake of "industry", it is not likely their lives would be any
>better. I try to follow my conscience with regards to what I spend money on,
>but there's so much corruption and so much bad intent out there it's nearly
>impossible to stay truly "clean" unless one subsists on a diet of bean
>sprouts and makes all one's own clothing. I do think it's important to be as
>informed as possible.... I've heard disturbing things about conditions at
>Sony factories in Mexico that make it very unlikely I'll ever buy one of
>their products again, and I will sure as hell never give a so much as a bent
>cent to those evil bastards at Nike... but it's very, very hard to do the
>right thing in a world so full of people who will screw their fellow man
>into the ground for the sake of a quick buck. It saddens me, and it makes a
>lot of the cool stuff in the toy store seem a lot less appetizing in
>Ah, hell, I don't think I even have a point here. This is just depressing

Don't worry about. Every MSIA toy you've ever bought was built months
before you ever saw it, and any human rights violations involved would
already be history. If any violations ((were)) involved, they most
certainly are still occurring. Bandai is having them built as effeciently
as possible, and if China uses political prisoners to make the lowest bid,
not buying the toy isn't going to make a difference. If they don't offer
prison labor to Bandai, they'll offer it to someone else, and if Bandai
isn't using prison labor, they'll still use underpaid workers in whatever
less-developed country makes the offer.

I don't think it's wrong to judge a country for violations of human rights
or other widely-held ethics, but it is futile to curb your life around
worries about things outside your sphere of influence. If such violations
bother you, then contribute to Amnestly International or some other
international human rights group, but don't worry about where your toy came

Case in point: Titan A.E. The film was produce by Fox Animation right here
in my home town, Phoenix Arizona. However, Titan received almost no local
or national promotion whatsoever since, by the time Titan was released, Fox
had already given up on animated features and closed the studio.

Turns out that Fox may have had something sinister in mind when they hired
exclusively foreign nationals to work in their Arizona Studio:

>The six foreign workers who did have contracts were offered 30 percent of
the contract value. Pearse Cullinane was one of them.
>"After Anastasia, I was given my little crown for top-footage person, for
most output on a movie," he recalls.
>Fox recognized his prolificacy in July 1999, sent him a congratulatory
letter and extended his contract to June 2001.
>As the Phoenix studio emptied, Cullinane reminded Fox that his contract
still had 14 months left on it. He claims Fox Animation's head of human
resources informed him that since "Arizona is a right-to-work state," the
contract was not binding. Fox execs also told him that he would not be able
to seek employment elsewhere unless he signed the contract waiver.
>He chose to fight Fox instead.
>On March 8, Cullinane's attorney, E. Bernard Buffenstein, filed a
complaint against Fox Animation Studios, charging breach of contract -- a
charge Fox lawyers don't even address in their motion for dismissal.
>Cullinane's lawsuit also alleges racketeering -- that Fox schemed to hire
non-residents to minimize its exposure to lawsuits by employees who could
be easily purged once the work ran out.
>"They evidently brought a bunch of people over from the Philippines on the
same basis," says Buffenstein of the racketeering claim. "I think the [Fox
financial plan] was dependent on the success of the work product, but the
decisions that were made didn't factor in the obligations to the employees.
>". . . they just ignored the obligation because they figured Pearse would
be deported and have to go back to Ireland and they'd never hear from him
again. Well, he's not in Ireland, he's here. He's got a provisional green
card because he married a U.S. resident."
>As for breach of contract, Fox did not claim Cullinane was fired for
cause, obviously. Fox had just renewed his contract.

...from "Suspended Animation":

I really liked Titan A.E. It had naive genius in a summer of dullard films,
and coming out close to the cable release of Heavy Metal FAKK2, Titan
really came across as a better inheritor to the original Heavy Metal film.
Fox has already gotten my money for the movie, twice, and will get it a
third time when the DVD comes out. The fact that Fox exploited foreign
workers to make the film doesn't affect what the quality I see in Titan
A.E. Whether I buy the DVD or not, Fox has already exploited the workers,
and I can't go back in time to change that. What I ((can)) do is let the
story be known on an international animation mailing list...


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