|The Cattle Market.|
The serious side of the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club was on show this week when David Barker gave a rather solemn introduction to a recent documentary from America called Girl Model (2011). David told us that despite any obvious similarities between Siberia and Tokyo a thriving model industry connects the two. Documentary filmmakers David Redman and Ashley Sabin divide their film between two protagonists involved in the business. The first was Nadya, a thirteen year old child who lives with her family in the Siberian countryside who is chosen for grooming as a suitable candidate to be sent to Japan with the promise of a money making career as a model. The second is the complex former model Ashley Arbaugh turned scout, whose job it is to scour the Siberian countryside villages hunting out fresh-faced young girls to tread the same demoralising path she once trod.
|Measuring up for Japan.|
Watching the film we find out that it was with the encouragement of her family and the family’s desire to improve their financial difficulties that Nadya is persuaded to enter a recruiting circus that resembles a cattle market where we also first meet the former model turned scout. She informs us that the Japanese market demands that models must be ‘fresh’ and borderline anorexic. Its also clear that these unsophisticated young girls lack any knowledge of English or Japanese, usually arriving in Tokyo without anyone to meet them or guide them, essentially left to fend for themselves in their tiny inhospitable apartments. The contracts they sign aren’t worth the paper there written on and they are made to lie about their age and often do not get any work at all therefore returning home in debt.
Ashley Arbaugh’s jaded outlook and indifference comes across as requiring some sort of help, underlined when we get a chance to veiw her cold inhospitable Connecticut dwelling with her pair of naked toy baby dolls sitting in pride of place on a chair in her living room and it was her who approached Sabin and suggested the subject for this documentary: why? She also gives an opinion that in many cultures, prostitution isn’t considered a bad thing at all, and that it’s perhaps easier than modeling! There is a fundamental feeling when you watch this documentary that the girls are only a short step away from international sex trafficking. This for me is emphasised when we meet two of the men involved, Tigran who controls the supply chain from the Russian end and Messiah his counterpart in Japan, both come across as complete arseholes oblivious to the girls suffering and distress!
|Ashley Arbaugh - Agent.|
This documentary is a sad reminder of the downfalls associated with the modelling industry showing the grief and pain of Nadya and her young friend but unfortunately does not attempt to apportion blame or crusade against the use of these underage girls. I can’t help feel that Redman and Sabin have lost the opportunity to really blow this side of the inhumane glamour industry apart. Although I suppose you could show it to all 13 year-old girls to dissuade them from the more dubious aspects of the modelling industry
At the end of the day are we not all to blame for this horrendous human trade? We all buy the magazines, the colour supplements and the goods that these and other young girls are promoting!