This past week I saw two films in large rooms with strangers- what used to be known as ‘going to the movies’. Both films “Merchants of Doubt” and “Bought “ ( available free online through May 15) are fact based documentaries about our well being. Both are essentially tragedies, dense with information that is factual, documented and not mainstream, that document how ideology and greed have driven processes that have produced conditions that are threats to well being, individually and socially.
While I appreciate them for the polish and diligence with which they tell their stories, both exhibit and illustrate the basic challenge of how to address the threats to our well being that are presented in their respective issues. I faced this same challenge when I set out to produce “Proof or Propaganda” for NOAA a few years back. I was resolved not to make “another climate Macbeth” and that was before “An Inconvenient Truth” had shifted the notions about the depressive impacts of a documentary. I worked to have the last third of my production be about reinventing the industrialized world to be sustainable. I featured well known successful capitalists excited and acting to do just that. Environmentalists criticized the film for having business people in it. “You talk to the same people who caused the problem” as if all of business throughout history were the people I interviewed.
Generating political will on these issues is difficult. We tend to put the laws of economics, ours personally and in general, ahead of those of creation- physics and chemistry, because we understand dollars personally. Chemistry and physics? Not so much. Plus there is a huge amount of dollars rolling along under the “Business as usual” flywheel, and aren’t we all doing pretty ok?
Then you toss in something like the recent measles outbreak and suddenly freedom of choice about what you do with your body, or your child’s body, is about to be taken away from you, even by supposed champions of personal liberty like libertarians and liberals.
These movies are useful, and how they fail to move people than anything else has been their legacy. They are a genre to themselves; the vast amounts of fact, anecdote and jaw dropping manipulation of those who profit by their influence on policy and law for their own gain, to say nothing of those who are happily tools for obfuscation and endarkenment. It’s a failed strategy that won’t stop.
I have come to rely on this :The simple fact is, we don’t celebrate Martin Luther King because he said “I have a nightmare”.
We prefer dreams. Dreams with happy endings, with love, light, lots of hugs and healthy happy kids, butterflies, and rainbows, under which everyone can prosper, be respected and live free. These are things we attach to. We need to believe that whatever changes we undertake will result in some grand vision at the end of the road, or we won’t even start, even if the start is just to ask for real food at the market, or question that release of liability form at the doctor’s office.
After the “Merchants of Doubt” screening, I asked Erik Conway, one of the authors of the source material, what his #climatedream is. He tweeted “that local action makes Federal inaction irrelevant. That well being indexes replace GDP.” Way cool. Thanks Erik!
Now I am asking you, what is your climate dream? Please share your best vision of a well resolved issue using the #climatedream tag ( or any #issuedream).. Let’s discover a moving inspiring vision of a world that works for everyone. #worldthatworks