”You’re either on our side or on their side” – Children as hope in Muutoksii

Tommi Römpötti, Media studies, The School of History, Culture and Arts Studies, University of Turku

Cinema is a social technology, an apparatus of representation reproducing or challenging our understanding of and attitudes towards, for example, immigrants (cf. de Lauretis 1980; 1987). Films are important negotiators as in films it is possible to represent, or imagine (de Lauretis 1984), alternatives for authoritative discourses which public conversations tend to reiterate. One of these alternative stories is Muutoksii (Changes, Laitinen 2014), a film where racism is experienced through the point of view of two 12-year-old boys living in Herttoniemi. In the film young people live in families of forced us and them continuity as adult men are actively maintaining prejudice and hate towards immigrants. This negative attitude triggers the generational conflict which is here understood as hope for a different and better future. Muutoksii is seen in the frame of Henry Giroux’s (2009; 2012) and Paul Verhaeghe’s (2014) critical views on neoliberalism. They both suggest that in the market-driven world compassion and social responsibility have been replaced by punishment and fear as the most important modalities defining the relationship of youth, in particular those marginalized by class or race, to the social order.

I suggest that Muutoksii is an alternative story which sees children as hope as through children’s point of view it questions the continuity of racism based on prejudice and fear. I ask, how is hope narrativized and in which kind of situations it is challenging the adversarial world of prejudised adults. In this context, one particular place for hope is the ending of the film.