“The truth shall set you free, but first it will piss you off” – Gloria Steinem.
Very few films have had any firm effect on our country’s policy. Obviously, some create awareness and stir passion. Some invoke political and social uphevel, but very few have actually impacted our government to change laws, pass bills or close down shops.
The China Syndrome, you could say, effected nuclear energy in this country. My parents have told me the story that they left a movie theater after seeing it, literally got in the car and on the radio was the news of the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania. They said if they put one of those plants within a 100 miles of Houston there would have been an uprising. After the release of JFK, Congress acted to declassify some of the documents related to the assassination. But films like An Inconvenient Truth or Super Size Me certainly raise eyebrows and manufacture concern, but there haven’t been many tangible effects directly from those films.
Inside Job, the new documentary from Charles Ferguson, might be the next game changer. I have certainly left many a movie upset, angry and properly pissed-off, but with Inside Job I left fearful. Not “there’s a guy hiding underneath my car” paranoia, I left feeling pretty certain that our country’s future had been sold a long time ago and the 300-million of us are just walking around biding time…
Perhaps I’m getting a little carried away, but a good movie will do that to you. Inside Job is the best movie the year, and likely one of the most important films thus far of the 21st century. More of a visual essay than a story. Its a blistering point-by-point, A lead to B, which lead to C, which lead to…2008. The interviews are with authors, academics, traders, a NY madam and different members of different administration’s Treasury Dept. And the one guy you root for is Eliot Spitzer (truly). My jaw was dropped for a solid two hours.
The main takeaway is this: When it comes to the big world of finance, and the individuals we see on the Sunday Morning shows, like Greenspan, Geithner, Summers, Paulson, Bernake. They are all on the same team: Wall Street’s. They are not looking out for our interest. We are invisible to them, and they have all very purposefully used the government to expand their empire. The Presidents from Reagan to Obama are to blame for lack of action, lack of control over a huge risk to our country’s health, they simply don’t want to alienate all that potential donor money.
I saw the film on Sunday night at the Landmark in West Los Angeles. Mostly an older crowd, no doubt some sitting near me lost much more retirement savings than I in 2008. Toward the end of the film there’s a clip of President Obama introducing Larry Summers as his Chief Economic Adviser, a woman in the aisle behind me yelled “Mother Fucker!” loudly, and the rest of the crowd chuckled. We were all thinking the same thing.
The film’s site is here: http://www.sonyclassics.com/insidejob/