Ghosts With Shit Jobs
September 12, 2011 4:13 AM   Subscribe

In the year 2040, America's economic collapse is complete, the cloud has been repossessed, and Westerners are forced to take jobs that no one in the East will do. Chinese documentary program Window on the World investigates the sad state of affairs.

Made for a budget of $4,000 over two and a half years, writer-director Jim Munroe has also created a prequel text adventure to set the mood, following two characters from the upcoming feature. The full film should hit the web in episodes beginning in October.

His previous feature, Infest Wisely, follows the spread of a new wonder-tech in seven episodes and was made for a budget of $700. According to Munroe, it features a much more "distracting" production value than Ghosts.
posted by CharlesV42 (68 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pretty funny. Is that an actual movie or did they just do the trailer?

Anyway, if the U.S. actually defaulted it would screw over the Chinese pretty hard.
posted by delmoi at 4:28 AM on September 12, 2011


Hey, working shit jobs for foreign capital, working shit jobs for domestic capital, what's the diff?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:31 AM on September 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


One thing we've been realizing around here is that our worst-case scenario from ten years ago is now our best-case scenario.
posted by fuq at 4:31 AM on September 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Looking at Chinese demographic trends, 2040 may not be an easy year for them either.
posted by Skeptic at 4:39 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the future, jobs will suck in a whole new way.

Not my problem fortunately. In 2040, I'll be living easy in the sweet lap of government guaranteed Social Security.

So whatever you kids have to do to keep those social security checks coming, get on with it. And no whinging about it.
posted by three blind mice at 4:43 AM on September 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, this does assume that China will continue to flourish during the intervening years - which is far from certain. China has at least two major problems quite apart from holding all those dollars: Political reform will happen one way or another, and economic growth will slow dramatically to support the elderly.
posted by dickasso at 4:43 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Luckily, as a Westerner, I don't believe in Karma -
so I don't have to think about the way we treat the billions of poor people in the East today, because it will not come back around in a karmic circle to bite the West.
Praise Jebus!
posted by Flood at 4:45 AM on September 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I really liked Infest Wisely, so I'm glad to see another Munroe film. But, of course, I looked for signs that the trailer was actually shot in Toronto, and was rewarded with a CTV logo and a TTC streetcar. If he meant "America" to include Canada, fair enough, but even on that tiny budget, couldn't those elements have been avoided?
posted by maudlin at 4:46 AM on September 12, 2011


Wait. Who did we buy clouds from and why couldn't we make payments on them? I hope there isn't a drought. Is fog gone too?
posted by DU at 4:47 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


OK so I need to explain this real quick but it's sorta complicated. I was cryogenically frozen in 1990 and just thawed yesterday and I found this thing loaded up on this guy's tricorder or whatever that he left in a coffee shop but I NEED TO KNOW: don't the Japanese own everything in the United States right now? Everyone kept telling me they would own the United States.
posted by indubitable at 4:47 AM on September 12, 2011 [73 favorites]


Aren't fallen empires are usually reasonable places to live?

Btw, Rare earths are plentiful all over the world, including Africa and South East Asia, which both offer labor costs well below China.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:50 AM on September 12, 2011


Aren't fallen empires are usually reasonable places to live?

Cosmopolitan population, leisurely pace, less militarism, museums full of stolen art you'll never have to give back, sounds like a deal.
posted by The Whelk at 4:51 AM on September 12, 2011 [18 favorites]


This actually seems slyly amusing.
posted by bicyclefish at 4:52 AM on September 12, 2011


I doubt that aging population would cause problems for China's current regime. Wouldn't they simply keep the old people working? If they grow more democratic, who knows.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:59 AM on September 12, 2011


It's odd when hip young people, without thinking too hard about it, take on right-wing ideas:

a) If you don't watch out, the Chinese are going to take over

b) Debts are sacred, the sky will fall if you stop paying.

c) The "new economy," based on the magic of the internet, is going to replace making and consuming stuff i.e. gamble grandma's pension money on tech start-ups.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:59 AM on September 12, 2011 [17 favorites]


I took it more as "hip young people" using proposed trajectories of society as a premise for some speculative exploration. Seemed less political than bemused.
posted by CharlesV42 at 5:03 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Glad to see xenophobia is being taken to all new levels.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 5:22 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


proposed trajectories of society as a premise for some speculative exploration

but the trajectories are founded on what seem to me to be right-wing ideas... which wouldn't be strange if I thought the creator believed this stuff. I think he's just stitching together cultural artifacts, sort of like the way Lucas made a movie by unthinkingly copying racist motifs from the golden-age-of-scifi.

Seemed less political than bemused

How could a movie based on speculation about nakedly political decisions i.e. default, not be political? I agree that he probably didn't think too hard about it...
posted by ennui.bz at 5:23 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, Bono will still exist.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 5:32 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I doubt that aging population would cause problems for China's current regime. Wouldn't they simply keep the old people working? If they grow more democratic, who knows.

The thing is, Chinese economic growth has, to a great extent, been based on previous population growth and a steady supply of new entrants into the job market. However, according to statistics, Chinese working-age population will peak in 2015. This is just in four years. In fact, we may be already witnessing the first effects of this reversal, as an increasingly scarce supply of new workers is starting to drive up salaries.

Even if people stay working for longer (and, in fact, they don't have much of an alternative: there's little in the way of social security or guaranteed retirement pensions in China, which is also why savings levels are so high), older workers are less productive. They get sick more often, and they even have the bad habit of, you know, dying. If current demographic trends are maintained, by 2040, total population (not just working age population) in China will be in clear retreat with respect to the current level.
posted by Skeptic at 5:37 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is awesome.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:38 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Infest Wisely trailer looks great, looking forward to watching the episodes later, and the new one as well. I also like his model for getting his stuff out there. Thanks, I'm glad to learn about this guy.
posted by mediareport at 5:38 AM on September 12, 2011


Not all Indigenous North Americans end up with shit jobs.
posted by kithrater at 5:49 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Film crew with a misunderstanding of chinese demographic and economic trends attempts to explain american demographic and economic trends. Hilarity ensues.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:57 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not all Indigenous North Americans end up with shit jobs.

True, there are a handful of casino owners.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:02 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


America's new growth sector: Sinophobia.
posted by pompomtom at 6:40 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, at least some of this video seems to align with Zager and Evans' projections, albeit a bit sooner than expected:

In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube, whoa-oh

posted by obscurator at 6:44 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems the asian bogeyman is China these days. The "China will take us over" reminds me of the breathlessness in the 70's over the imminent Japanese takeover.

Toward the Japan Century - Time, 1970
(via: this google answer)
posted by forforf at 6:46 AM on September 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


It seems the asian bogeyman is China these days. The "China will take us over" reminds me of the breathlessness in the 70's over the imminent Japanese takeover.

It's a lot older, as a matter of fact...
posted by Skeptic at 6:58 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


this does assume that China will continue to flourish during the intervening years

Yeah, fwiw, a friend of mine, just returned from living in China, believes that the Chinese economy is a bubble built on shady foundations that will inevitably--and in the not-too-distant-future--burst. "If you thought the US mortgage bubble was ugly," he says, "Wait 'till the Chinese bubble pops." I can't say if that's true or not, but it doesn't sound at all implausible, and knowing what I know about un/badly regulated capitalism, sounds a lot more plausible than a story of a dominant China thirty years in the future.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:04 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Not my problem fortunately. In 2040, I'll be living easy in the sweet lap of government guaranteed Social Security.
I take it you're not paying attention to the current political debates, right? Rick Perry, the front runner for the republican nomination says he wants to abolish it. Not for the current retirees, of course. And even democrats have been talking about raising the retirement age to 67.
Yeah, this does assume that China will continue to flourish during the intervening years - which is far from certain. China has at least two major problems quite apart from holding all those dollars: Political reform will happen one way or another, and economic growth will slow dramatically to support the elderly.
Robots, comrade. Actually, they can solve both problems.

To be more seriously, though why must political reform happen? Historically, democracy is an anomaly. It isn't by far the natural order for humanity, and there's no reason to think that Chinese authoritarianism couldn't last for another three thousand years, on top of three thousand or so of recorded Chinese history.

The economic situation in China caused by an aging population is going to be faced by Europe even sooner, without any of the draconian measures. I don't see anyone saying it's going to destroy Europe (although, the current sovereign debt crisis is actually putting the euro at risk)
Cosmopolitan population, leisurely pace, less militarism, museums full of stolen art you'll never have to give back, sounds like a deal.
Eh, the brits stole all the good art before we got there.
posted by delmoi at 7:08 AM on September 12, 2011


Ni hao, Kithrater! That clip was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time, xie xie!
posted by jabah at 7:08 AM on September 12, 2011


Those are the worst future dystopian jobs they can imagine? Looks quite nice, actually.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:14 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, fwiw, a friend of mine, just returned from living in China, believes that the Chinese economy is a bubble built on shady foundations that will inevitably--and in the not-too-distant-future--burst.

An average of 9.9% annual GDP growth over 30+ years? Why, that can't possibly be a bubble!
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:25 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


2040 ?
posted by larry_darrell at 7:42 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It looks like Caucasian babies will still be the big robotics seller. Is that because the Chinese want natural babies? Is it a holdover from the current situation? Is it just to make it easier to tell which babies are robots? Is it because robots will willingly grow up to take shit jobs?
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:15 AM on September 12, 2011


there's no reason to think that Chinese authoritarianism couldn't last for another three thousand years, on top of three thousand or so of recorded Chinese history.

Chinese history is not remotely that simplistic. The power structure in China, though very different from the Western world, has been constantly evolving and changing, just as it has throughout the rest of the world in every culture. (And, please. The American Democracy was hardly a novel idea by the time it was introduced and implemented.)

(But, if we're going to use gross oversimplifications of history as a guide, you'd also be remiss not to mention that, with very few exceptions, China has historically been an aggressively introverted culture that did not care much about what happened beyond its borders and immediate neighbors. All things considered, we should be pretty happy that China are friendly with us. If we do, in fact, sell ourselves to the Chinese, it will almost certainly be our own doing, and we will have nobody but ourselves to blame.)
posted by schmod at 8:26 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't worry, I'm certain we'll all be working 25 hour work weeks by 2040 - at least that's what they told me in the 1960's.

(Sure, it's a little delayed, but no need for concern - the future'll be here before we know it!)
posted by fairmettle at 8:30 AM on September 12, 2011


Rare earths are plentiful all over the world

Then I propose we change their name to something more suitable. Perhaps "common earths".
posted by Hoopo at 8:40 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


This has been done before
posted by photoslob at 8:54 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice use of reborn babies.
posted by doctornemo at 9:46 AM on September 12, 2011


ennui.bz: "It's odd when hip young people, without thinking too hard about it, take on right-wing ideas"

None of these things can be adequately described as "right-wing ideas" but whatever rocks your fallacy!
posted by falameufilho at 9:48 AM on September 12, 2011


Pretty funny. Is that an actual movie or did they just do the trailer?

It's an actual movie which is supposed to be released online in October.
posted by homunculus at 10:00 AM on September 12, 2011


Yeah, labeling China as a bogeyman is both tired and wrong. The Chinese language component of the video was also poorly done, I think. (Why is it so hard for American filmmakers to do correct Chinese in their productions?)

The interesting thing about the video, for me, was the invention of jobs that don't so much exist now. Conversational spammer and digital janitor, especially.
posted by jiawen at 10:09 AM on September 12, 2011


jiawen writes "(Why is it so hard for American filmmakers to do correct Chinese in their productions?)"

The $4000 budget might have something to do with it.
posted by Mitheral at 10:36 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's fascinating to me how closely the American response to losing global dominance mirrors the reactions of many to global warming: a mixture of cognitive dissonance, anger and denial.

China is buying the US, both in terms of debt and quite literally, building 50 square-mile self-sustaining cities in the United States for economic production.

Things could always change. But right now the outlook does not look good for the US.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:39 AM on September 12, 2011


Bora Horza Gobuchul: "China is buying the US, both in terms of debt and quite literally, building 50 square-mile self-sustaining cities in the United States for economic production."

Wow. That site is chock full of crazy. Is there a less unhinged version of that story floating around somewhere?
posted by schmod at 10:42 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


building 50 square-mile self-sustaining cities in the United States for economic production.

Coming from a website called "http://endoftheamericandream.com" with ads for gold coins and survival kits and, very ironically, cheap Chinese electronic gizmos at 90% discount...

Seems Legit.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:49 AM on September 12, 2011


Mitheral: "The $4000 budget might have something to do with it."

Lots of other people volunteered for the project -- maybe a Chinese translator would, too.
posted by jiawen at 10:57 AM on September 12, 2011


building 50 square-mile self-sustaining cities in the United States for economic production.

Not to mention, swift-boater, birther, World Net Daily contributor and general all-purpose opportunist whore of the Right-wing smear machine, Dr. Jerome Corsi, gets quoted on the issue. Bleech.

I'd rather welcome our new Chinese overlords than have anything to do with that mendacious and completely delusional uber-douche.
posted by Skygazer at 11:01 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel like I still owe the Chinese for paper, the compass, gunpowder, and printing. Not to mention the fork, the noodle, cultivation of rice, the bristle toothbrush, and, of course, waterwheel-powered puppets.

So I guess I wouldn't mind if they were my overlords. I'd be pretty screwed without the fork.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:32 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fireworks, they invented fucking fireworks, how badass is that?
posted by Skygazer at 11:35 AM on September 12, 2011


Considering that the meat of the "Chinese to build mega-cities in US" story comes directly from Corsi:
"According to Dr. Jerome Corsi, the U.S. government has already set up 257 "foreign trade zones" across America. These "foreign trade zones" will apparently be given "special U.S. customs treatment" and will be used to promote global free trade ..."
I'm gonna take a pass on it also. There's something about nutty serial-liars that just makes them hard to take seriously.

But thanks for bringing The American Dream to my attention. I'm relishing the "16 Cold Hard Facts That Prove That America Has Become A Nation Full Of Perverts And Predators."
posted by octobersurprise at 11:36 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm relishing the "16 Cold Hard Facts That Prove That America Has Become A Nation Full Of Perverts And Predators."

Okay, that link is so beautifully full of crazy. This:

"The United States has become a place where pedophiles and sexual predators roam neighborhoods and roam Internet chat rooms in increasingly large numbers."

Made me think of herds of pedophiles, stampeding through otherwise bucolic neighborhoods.

And then it just ends like this:

No nation can frolic in the moral toilet and be a great nation at the same time for long. We are destroying our nation by what we have allowed ourselves to become. We have become a nasty, disgusting nation and we desperately need to wake up.

During times like these it is important to protect yourself. Protect your license and find a dependable initial consultation with a Felony DUI Lawyer San Diego


What?! This site is my new favorite. Thank you.
posted by ScotchRox at 12:18 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


That "Perverts and Predators" link is full of hope, though!

"89 percent of all pornography is created in the United States. 11 percent is made in the rest of the world. "

"The truth is that producing dirty pictures for Americans is very, very big business. 89 dollars is spent on pornography every single second of every single day in the United States"

So the path to American prosperity is more porn!
posted by wildcrdj at 12:24 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Forks? Really? Growing up in Beijing, the history texts were always trumpeting everything we supposedly invented, but I don't remember anything about forks. If anything, it was all about how chopsticks and chopstick users are totally superior to stupid Westerners and their forks. (Chopsticks really are awesome though. Eating chicken wings with chopsticks is a great way to avoid a mess.)

I also remember how supposedly pizza was invented by Marco Polo after he saw xiar bing but being a stupid Westerner, he couldn't figure out how to actually keep fillings in, so he just threw the fillings on top.

Whee CCP propaganda.
posted by kmz at 12:44 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chopsticks really are awesome though. Eating chicken wings with chopsticks is a great way to avoid a mess

I'm not so sure; I've been to 2 Chinese weddings this summer and the lobster course in particular was not pretty, and not just for this white guy. Ditto for the mushrooms (slippery buggers!) and the crab-claw ball thingy, which many people wound up stabbing through with chopsticks or else holding by the extruding claw with their bare hands. Seems they have their ups and downs too, and some foods are just messy no matter what.
posted by Hoopo at 1:20 PM on September 12, 2011


The internet is full of dirty child pictures!
posted by perhapses at 1:42 PM on September 12, 2011


China and India must thrive if we want prosperity here. The alternative will be war and turmoil which will kill us all.
posted by humanfont at 1:57 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


China will be owned by India which will be owned by Brazil which will be owned by South Africa which will be owned by Indonesia which will be owned by Mexico which will be owned by Nigeria which will be owned by
posted by Apocryphon at 2:48 PM on September 12, 2011


Is there a less unhinged version of that story floating around somewhere?

Yes. Sinomach was encouraged by Idaho's Proposition 60, which has several parts to designed to stimulate the economy there. One part is Foreign Direct Investment. They have paired this with the EB-5 Visa:
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service administers an immigrant investor visa program called EB-5. The program grants foreigners permanent U.S. residency in exchange for helping create U.S. jobs.

The program requires a $1 million investment in urban areas or a $500,000 investment in rural or targeted employment areas and the creation of 10 permanent jobs. The investment must also remain “at-risk” without repayment for a period of two full years.
The original article about Sinomach in Idaho was in the Idaho Statesman last December:
A Chinese national company is interested in developing a 10,000- to 30,000-acre technology zone for industry, retail centers and homes south of the Boise Airport. Officials of the China National Machinery Industry Corp. have broached the idea — based on a concept popular in China today — to city and state leaders.
Please notice that was "interested" and "broached." Later in the same article:
City officials were cautious, since the idea is at an early stage. 'We understand they are at a preliminary stage. We are waiting to hear back from them with a proposal for where they want to go from here,' said Cece Gassner, assistant to the mayor for economic development.
They are still waiting. There was a follow-up article in the Idaho Statesman in June of this year:
Officials of the China National Machinery Industry Corp. have not followed up to city and state leaders about the long-term proposal they made last year. But the city has had a number of inquiries from 'conspiracy theorists' who have seen versions of my story that went viral on the Internet in the last month....The latest interest in the 2010 story started with a May 13 cover story in the The New American , which is affiliated with the John Birch Society. The article, 'China: The New Investment Savior,' by William F. Jasper, is an expanded rewrite of my story, adding many of themes that show up in the blog stories that have generated a flurry of e-mails and calls.
Emphasis mine.
posted by Houstonian at 5:33 PM on September 12, 2011


All I can say is, I'm looking at that couple with the "baby maker" job, and looking at their apartment, and wondering, can I have that job now?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:40 PM on September 12, 2011


"Anyway, if the U.S. actually defaulted it would screw over the Chinese pretty hard." -- delmoi

Perhaps that is why they are on a Gold buying spree -- They plan ahead, past the next quarter.
posted by MikeWarot at 12:49 AM on September 13, 2011


Chinese history is not remotely that simplistic. The power structure in China, though very different from the Western world, has been constantly evolving and changing, just as it has throughout the rest of the world in every culture. (And, please. The American Democracy was hardly a novel idea by the time it was introduced and implemented.)
Well, it was never a democracy. Up until the 1900s it has always been an authoritarian top down government. It was pretty chaotic in the first half of the 20th century, but once things stabilized under mao it's been authoritarian since then. Taiwan didn't even have it's first elections until 2000.
China is buying the US, both in terms of debt and quite literally, building 50 square-mile self-sustaining cities in the United States for economic production.
Crazy nonsense from a blog hawking gold and silver coins and emergency life kits and other nonsense. The loans china is giving us entail buying treasury bonds. It's not like the Chinese get to reposes the U.S. if we don't pay. It would pretty much destroy the global economy if the U.S. defaulted.
Perhaps that is why they are on a Gold buying spree -- They plan ahead, past the next quarter.
It will be pretty hilarious when that bubble pops.
posted by delmoi at 2:24 AM on September 13, 2011


Gold is worthless. Shiny and we use it for a couple of computer parts, but ultimately it is worthless. Wars will not be fought over it. Water, Oil, possibly the Arctic, but never gold. Basically it's tulips only less edible.

I really want to know whats up with the giant spider signs that those dudes are putting up.
posted by Peztopiary at 2:42 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Peztopiary writes "Gold is worthless. Shiny and we use it for a couple of computer parts, but ultimately it is worthless."

I disagree. If gold was a common as say copper we'd be using it for all sorts of things, it's an extremely useful engineering metal. Imagine how awesome a stainless steel pot with a goldstainless/gold/stainless sandwich bottom would be. And of course gold being denser than lead readily available gold would replace a lot of lead use. For example we'd use gold for boat ballast and counter weights and gold for bullets and shotgun balls if it was of similar price. Gold could be used as weight and lure for fishing. Gold roof flashing would be awesome; easily formed in many complex shapes and it wouldn't create toxic run off.
posted by Mitheral at 11:41 AM on September 13, 2011


My Life in the Bush of Ghosts With Shit Jobs
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:25 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nitpick: Taiwan's first free presidential election was in 1996, not 2000.

In fact, Taiwan has had many elections before 2000; there were legislative elections in '69, '72, '75, '80, '83, '86, '89, '92, '95 and '98, as well as several National Assembly elections (the body has since been made defunct), and a couple of municipal/provincial/local elections.

Sure, most of the legislative elections before the '90s were for very few seats overall and were basically a guaranteed KMT victory, but martial law (and the corresponding ban on opposition parties) ended in 1991.
posted by andrewesque at 1:32 PM on September 14, 2011


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