Top critical review
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on 15 October 2014
documentary about nature constantly being transformed through human industry. And, more importantly, the fact that Westerners desire a life of material richness but wish to evade the negative consequences of this for the entire world – pollution. This uneasy self-contradiction sets in train images that are attractive, in themselves, but repulsively inept in their political meaning. This moral bankruptcy is more about the West's cowardly-unwillingness to accept its industrial and economic decline - in the face of alleged Third World inferiors - and of the necessity for globalization.
This bizarrely misanthropic work's clear hatred for the world's poor is matched by its self-loathing of Western liberals. Instead of being truly creative, the self styled creative here (Jennifer BAICHWAL) simply attacks those whom are not so creatively endowed - as if this were, itself, some special form of creativity. Such people have run out of creative ideas; telling us little about the modern world but a great deal about those who hate it.
There is a lot of talk here about modern Man divorced from his natural environment. Yet, this filmmaker views people as cogs in a vast industrial machine - the very attitude being critiqued! Human choice, need and psychological motivation are elided in favor of crypto-communism. The documentary pictorially exploits the alleged exploitation it highlights and so is just as exploitive since it proceeds to offer neither palliative nor cure. This film is in love with what it ostensibly criticizes because Man is considered as unnatural as the industrial landscape revealed. Such a view inevitably leads either to the belief that the world would be better off without Man, as such, or without certain men. Either way that can only mean genocide.
The most telling material here comes from China, since no culture has ever undergone such a rapid change in a single generation. Over a billion people are part of a massive economic-engineering experiment – based on cheap labor and the production of goods that are cheaper to replace than to repair - that will see China as the next economic superpower after the United States declines. Yet, this movie is oddly nostalgic for a China of which the filmmakers have no personal experience: A gene-supremacist fear of the East's growing economic power by trying to stress what China was (economically weak in comparison to the West) and which it should, allegedly, have never left behind. This quintessentially-pessimistic account of the modern world from the point of view of Westerners' panicked sense that the West is no longer economic top-dog is also a great nostalgic whinge for an ethically-lost and economically-declining West. The fact that China builds a new coal fired power station every four days proves we are living to consume rather than consuming to live: A fitting epitaph, perhaps, for the 21st century.
The real problem here is not global pollution but global hegemony: The new White Man's Burden. But this non existent burden has always been irresolvable and so those who carry it are doomed to failure: The film is biased while feigning pro diversity. The implicit claim made is that the West can simply refuse to renounce the benefits causing the problem and that the Third World should not modernize and improve in order to avoid making the world's pollution worse. This attempted repudiation of fair competition keeps the poor poor and the rich rich - as it is intended to.
The reason this film offers no solutions is because it is part of the problem, particularly since it was manufactured using the same industrial processes and political attitudes condemned. It is bad enough if Whites produce waste, but if non-Whites do so suddenly there is a real problem. Unwilling to step outside of their own implication in waste production, the filmmakers believe in their own superiority in being able to solve a problem they are part of creating! Representing the high watermark of the spiritual and intellectual emptiness of Western culture, this superficial film never discusses the issue in any depth. To refuse to face a problem both tacitly admits the predicament exists and that the refusee lacks an answer.
When there are no easy solutions, Western intellectuals' delight in such morally degenerate sleights of hand as "There's no such thing as objectivity." Yet the statement itself pretends to be objective! Why should anyone care about the problem this film highlights if it is not objectively happening? These foes of reason and common sense are the minds who appoint themselves as solvers of allegedly non-objective problems demonstrated by this film. In which case, why was the film made at all? With these people as friends, we do not need enemies - and we can be nothing but doomed to breathing the bad air we have created if we ever listen to them.
This exceptionally pointless exercise in political masturbation, emotional self-indulgence and self-righteousness that makes Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth look like intelligent discourse and Esther Rantzen a people's champion. Not really about anything more than the belly-button fluff of its makers – so far up its own fundament that there is no way back. If this self-obsession is a fundamental aspect of human nature then the Earth is clearly doomed in human terms since there can then be no solution to the problem of endemic waste, limited resources and pollution. Globalization is not the real problem here, White Western liberals are.