Of By For

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Of By For is a documentary about the American political system. I enjoyed the film and recommend watching it…..but…..Yes, there’s a but…

Frankly, the interview conducted, the things said, and the history illustrated is BOTH important and frequently covered. I found myself thinking that I’ve seen another version of this movie a dozen times  before and I can’t remember the names of any of the other films.

Then Dan Rather spoke.

Dan Rather made some very heartfelt comments about the loss of a spine within the American press. He commented on the loss of checks and balances that the press is, theoretically, supposed to provide and the fact that ‘reality television’ can be done without consequence while true hard journalism comes with the potential of facing a lot of very hard, expensive and potentially career ending consequences – even with the journalistic work is good, professional, ethical and legal.

This reminded me of Puerto Rico’s “most trusted journalist” as covered on the Daily Show: La Comay on SuperXclusivo. Perhaps we need more puppets asking questions and fewer journalists acting like puppets.

Of By For resources:

Poverty, Inc.

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I finally got the opportunity to watch the documentary Poverty Inc. It’s well worth watching and covers a lot of details that are extremely important to consider when providing assistance internationally.

As I was watching it, I kept thinking the same systemic concerns, complaints and problems occur here in the United States. The manifestation is different, but the way money, business, non-profit work and political/social forces operate are the same. Honestly, I think a Poverty Inc USA-version is both possible and warranted. Maybe someday that will happen.

The danger I see in this film is the assumption that no help at all is better than anything being provided for free. That is not the argument made by this film, either purposely or as a result of the evidence provided. The point made…extremely well…is that non profits make money off of catastrophes and continue making money as long as the catastrophes continue, which directly and drastically hinders the efforts of people trying to overcome terrible events.

Help is ethically, morally and politically necessary. However, turning people into your permanent fundraising poster child by hindering their ability to move into (or return to) a state of financial and political self-sufficiency is not help – it’s business.

This would make an excellent starting point of an in-depth discussion or class on poverty, economics, business and politics.

Details about the movie:

Vacation Film Viewing

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While on vacation, I attended a workshop presented by Mick Caouette of South Hill Films. The workshop consisted of viewing and discussing twp South Hills Films documentaries:

Both films were extremely well-done and a pleasure to watch.

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Mr. Civil Rights provided some fascinating insight into the strategies utilized by the legal team that established the NAACP and achieved both the integration of the school system and the elimination of Jim Crow.

Hubert H Humphrey went into the behind-the-scenes dramas that occurred while Humphrey was vice president. During his time as Vice President, this Vietnam War era politician was vilified for being pro-war. According to the details presented by this film, he was not pro-war, and the undisclosed political maneuverings were significantly more complicated and (frankly) vicious than most people realize.

Zombies Are Better In Print

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This was an excellent novel. In fact, two books that I had requested through my local library came available while I was in the midst of reading this one – both had exceptionally long waiting lists and I needed to get through them both before the return date. Yet, I simply could not stop reading this book. Could. Not. Put. Down.

While the story is about zombies, the focus is on a viral outbreak that causes a world war. It reads like a science fiction war novel, not a horror story. There are plenty of exciting story lines, nail-biting adventures and descriptions of creepy undead, but the undead make up the background for the human stories that occur within the midst of a new-to-the-human-race mortal danger.

The structure is based around the idea that the fictional ‘author’ traveled the world interviewing people and gathering data about the zombies, the battles and the human element. The result is a collection of first-person accounts of a massively destructive biological event that was eventually put down through offensive attacks on millions (billions) of humans-turned-zombies.

The fact that the virus is spread through human negligence (officials refusing to believe data), fear (refugees and panic), criminal activities (illicit organ transplants) and predatory commerce (selling fake cures with FDA approval) is disturbingly logical. Nuclear attacks between countries and civil wars within nations are launched because communications system fail, key individuals are lost and the difficult fact that human nature tends toward both control and revenge (even when human extinction is a potential consequence).

The most frightening thing about this novel is the description of very real human reactions – and we do not come across as a particularly logical, kind or resilient species. In the end, the human race wins the war well enough to return to some semblance of a life, but…well…you’ll have to read the book. Suffice it to say that the zombies are not gone, just under control.

If you saw the movie, then be forewarned – the book describes a very different plot, new selection of characters and a drastically different take on the zombie-as-monster. Hollywood pretty much took the bones of the narrative (UN employee searching for an the source of the zombie plague by traveling around the world and interviewing people) and created a brand new version of the story.

Bottom line – it’s a good book (REALLY good book) and I highly recommend it.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Top 3 Movies: Poverty and the ‘Noble Savage’

The ‘Noble Savage’ is a fictional character that portrays an innocent outsider untouched by the corruption of civilization.

In Hollywood, this generally produces a storyline that goes something like this: a respectable (usually white, well educated and rich) man loses his way in unknown territory and stumbles across a local (the savage) who helps him find his way home, usually after saving the respectable man’s physical life and assisting him in establishing a spiritual one. Then, upon returning home, the respectable man participates in the demise of the local and his or her entire family or village. Usually, the participation is accidental or the result of naiveté, which conveniently eliminates the potential long-term relationship between the respectable man and his new friend. It also presents an excellent opportunity for the Hollywood ‘Nooooooo!’ (done with great drama, tears, and a fall to the knees).

Here are my selections for the top three movies using homeless people or people in poverty in a classic ‘Noble Savage’ storyline:

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1) A Christmas Carol Is it possible to forget that moment when Scrooge is heartbroken over the possible death of Tiny Tim? Of course, between the help of otherworldly spirits and the benevolent poor surrounding the old man, Scrooge the miser finds his way home and becomes a very happy man.

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2) Down and Out in Beverly Hills A homeless man is taken in by super-wealthy Beverly Hills family and proceeds to fix all of the heartbreak, disappointment and self-destructive habits of his new benefactors. This movie does not have a ‘Noooooo!’ moment, but it does have a horrible scene where the homeless man insists that he is a ‘good homeless’ person because he likes being out on the street – most of the rest of them hate it and are, therefore, ‘bad’ homeless.

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3) The Fisher King I must admit that I actually like this movie because of the relationships between the main characters, but it remains in the top three for the following reasons:

  1. The two lead males are both respectable men who have lost their way (and their minds) due to a horrible tragedy.
  2. Both lead males interact with homeless people while lost and use those new relationships to find their way home.
  3. One character snubs a homeless ‘friend’ after regaining his rightful status as super-wealthy-powerful-famous-man and is unable to find this friend when he has a change of heart (say it with me: Nooooooo!).
  4. The other leading man is returned home (regains sanity) through the help of his new respectable friend and a woman who has fallen in love with him (another standard Hollywood scenario), thereby leaving behind the people he knew while homeless.

Those are my picks – what are yours?

(C) Adora Myers 2014