July 1, 2015 | Category: Blog | Author:

Weekly roundup: The big picture, part 1


I’m often asked for examples of stories that address systemic problems like structural racism or unfair taxation. People want to know how they can artfully synthesize very complex social challenges. Over the next three Wednesdays on the blog, I’ll present some examples of videos that address big problems, without losing sight of the individual. For week one, here are several videos that present the problem, or a perspective on history. The first and last ones are satire, and as such don’t offer much in the way of hope.

A) Michael Moore‘s 2002 film “Bowling for Columbine” took on gun violence in America, using the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School as a point of departure. He had the “South Park” animators create “A Brief History of the USA” for the film. Plenty of people hate Moore, but Oscar voters loved him and how this film-within-a-film gave a historical explanation for the soaring number of U.S. gun deaths.

B) Here’s a video from the “Story of Stuff Project,” about the use of plastic “micro-beads” in personal hygiene products, which end up in our water supply. For my tastes, the “Story of Stuff” videos are a little patronizing — somebody lecturing us about this or that problem — but they neatly summarize how the making of “stuff” affects consumers and the environment. See the whole series here.


C) This animation by “Paylasman” (Facebook page) charts the life of the planet from cheerful idyl to trashed hellscape, as one man — representing others — stomps on, kills, eats and burns everything in sight. There’s not much hope here, but I don’t think this video is meant to inspire.