Day 16: Philanthropic Profiteers

Welcome to Day 16 of the A to Z Challenge. For this year’s challenge, I’ll be examining different types of characters that can be found in international fiction. Today I’m looking at philanthropic profiteers.

So, you may look at today’s character type and think, isn’t that an oxymoron? Yes, yes it is and in some ways, so is this character type.

Philanthropic profiteers have the idea that you can’t change the system, so you might as well take advantage of it. Deep down, however, these characters want to hope for change or at least want to see goodness within a corrupt world.

Two things these characters tend to have in common is being jaded by harsh realities and being paired with relentless hopefuls.

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Slumdog Millionaireand Blood Diamond.

Jaded by Harsh Realities

Danny Archer in Blood Diamond is jaded by years of war and a system of relentless exploitation. Within this system Danny sells diamonds, fueling the world he hates, but he sees his profits as the only way to escape. Latika in Slumdog Millionaire is sold into prostitution and abuse. When offered an escape, her initial response is that there is no escape from her world. She might as well live as safe as she can within it.

Paired with Hopefuls

Philanthropic profiteers are often challenged to believe that better possibilities exist by a new character within their world. Danny is paired with Solomon Vandy, a man so hopeful he believes he can recover his son from a warmonger without using a weapon. Latika is paired with Jamal Malik, who is so hopeful Latika can be rescued from her world that he goes through great lengths to find her. Schindler in Schindler’s List is paired with Itzhak Stern, who convinces Schindler that he can actually provide a safe haven for Jewish people in Poland during War World Two.

Philanthropic profiteers tend to appear in stories that involve oppression. Other examples of philanthropic profiteers are Akanji from “The Bar Beach Show,” Charlie Wilson in Charlie Wilson’s War and Qi’ra from Solo.

Have you seen other stories with philantrophic profiteers?

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