(Written by Cameron Conaway)
29 October 2014 – The term “wealth inequality” is thrown around in a lot of abstract ways. Here’s to making it concrete:
Imagine the makers of one of humanity’s highest-grossing entertainment films shooting footage for the sequel at one of the world’s most brutal sites of human and environmental abuse.
Hold that thought.
The ship breaking yards of Chittagong have essentially become a place where we the wealthy dump our toxic cruise liners and oil tankers after we’ve had our vacations and fun with them.
The official trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron has 47 million views at the time of this writing. The Daily Star reports that the first Avengers film, titled The Avengers, in 2012, “became the fastest film to gross $1 billion and went on to gross over $1.5 billion, making it the third-highest grossing film of all time.” Hold that thought, too.
Interesting, then, that a group of animators and filmmakers with seemingly infinite tools (and money) at their disposal would choose to shoot a scene at the ship breaking yards of Chittagong, a site where blue ocean waters have turned black due to toxic waste being dumped into them, a site where countless boys and young men have been mutilated, used as slaves and even been “thrown out to sea” after they’ve died. No other site I’ve visited as a human rights journalist blends environmental and human destruction quite like this place. My hope (and this a hope I can hold in my hands as much as smoke) is that Marvel shot this scene not simply as entertainment but as an effort to use their platform and privilege to increase awareness for the abuses taking place there. If not, may they see the error of their ways and kick a few million Bangladeshi Taka over to the modern-day heroes at The Shipbreaking Platform.
The yards are shown at the 1:31 mark: