I watched movie Outsourced on Netflix Instant Play. It tells of a novelty products salesman sent to India to start up a call center after his entire department has been outsourced to that country.
The movie came out in 2006, i.e. at the peak of the housing bubble and well before the present recession. It’s hard to imagine our bien pensants green-lighting the film today; the subject matter would be considered too incendiary, and its light-hearted treatment of it too inauthentic. The movie does, I think, fairly show the tradeoffs involved with outsourcing. Near the end of the movie, a salesgirl takes a call from an irate customer: he had ordered a ceramic American eagle that turned out to be made in China. The salesgirl says she understands his disappointment and offers to refer him to a competitor that offers a similar product “one hundred percent American made.”
“Is it about the same price?” the customer asks.
“Nosir, it is $212 more,” the salesgirl replies.
“Um, okay, I guess I’ll keep my order with you then.”
I’m not enough of an expert on India to know how accurate the movie’s portrayal of India is. The movie makes a show of presenting negative aspects, like crime, beggary, and the vast gulf between rich and poor, but these are depicted sentimentally. But one plot line struck me as frankly unbelievable. The American has a sexual affair with one of his employees, a girl scheduled for an arranged marriage two months hence. Now, cheating fiancés are no surprise at this point, but what strikes me as incredible is that an Indian girl, apparently capable of earning her own way and yet traditional enough to submit to an arranged marriage with a man she has never met, would also cheat on him without the slightest scruple, and that this practice would be common enough in India as to have its own name: “Holiday in Goa.”