American Factory is a documentary that is featured on Netflix that could leave the viewer with multiple different takes on it’s content, message, and meaning. I offer thoughts after my viewing and long thinking and contemplation about the documentary below:

There was a distinct delineation between the work of the Chinese individual as Fuyaou in Ohio and then work of the American individuals at the very same Fuyaou. I am not just referencing their work ethic, but their values in work. It was obvious at the beginning of the film that the Chinese were mainly focused on quantity while the American’s were focused on quality. This is not to say that the quality of the Chinese worker’s work was not good or that the American worker’s work was not plentiful, but rather an observation.

This observation is supported and reinforced later in the film when some of the American’s, it seemed that they were the supervisors, went to China to see how they run their operations there. Amidst their visit to Fuyaou in China, they had the opportunity to participate in the festivities of the Chinese New Year with the locals where they, as well as us as the viewers, got to see performances by many. The content of their celebrations (ie. lyrics, conversations, dances, etc.) were focused on work! At one point, a woman was singing a song in which it seemed as if the lyrics went through the various departments of Fuyaou, described the work they perform in that specific department, and praised their efforts. My observation while watching this was explanative of the priorities of the Chinese versus the Americans.

It seemed, from the documentary, that the Chinese valued work more while the Americans valued family. This was supported by some of the Chinese individuals saying they only see their family once a year, commenting how the Americans should have to come in on Saturday, that the Americans should have mandatory overtime, and how the lyrics of their celebrations were even focusing on this topic as well. This was also supported by some of the conversations within the Americans who invited the Chinese to come over to their home and relax, moved in with family when they needed the help, or commented how their pay deduction resulted in not being able to get shoes for their kid.

Finally, to further draw differences within this same realm, the Americans stood up to the harsh working conditions within Fuyaou by advocating for a union, a safer work environment, and higher pay and benefits while the Chinese were instructed not to because it would break the direct communication and trust between the worker and the company which was never there in the first place.

These thoughts can be rather open ended and leave the reader to draw their own conclusions. Typically this would be considered bad writing or sloppy, but I consider it purposeful as the documentary used the same tactic.