Essential Movie List (that will convince you that we’re totally screwed)

I apologize to my regular visitors for not adding new entries. I am a full-time graduate student and work weekends. My schedule has kept me pretty busy, and I have other writings that I am working on that limit my ability to add new content for this blog. Below is a short list of some documentaries that I would recommend seeing. I will add a book list later.

I’m making this list because I often feel like I’m speaking a foreign language when I talk to people about the pressing problems we face today.

For example, I was discussing economic issues in a class and mentioned some concerns about the ascendency of China.  A student rebuffed these points by saying, “Heck, I think we can kick China’s ass.”  Also, family members and others have suggested to me that we can just absolve our debts to China and refuse to pay them. As if there wouldn’t be catastrophic financial repercussions of telling the world that a country holding $2 trillion of our debt can take our IOUs and stick them up their ass (simply because we don’t like them).

People like to compare our current situation to other periods of history and other challenges, not realizing that—in many ways—the problems we face at the moment are entirely unique to the entire period of human civilization, and basically unsolvable. I hope to write an entry about these problems in more detail at some point.

If you are of the opinion that all problems have some solution, I would like to inform you that the major lesson of studying history for historians is that many historical problems had no solution. Americans like to think we can overcome any challenge. By being well-versed in history, one realizes that this is utter fantasy.

For example, after the Americans acquire the atomic bomb, ask yourself: how could Japan have turned the scales towards the end of WWII?  Is there a solution for the Japanese Generals to beat America in 1945?  No.  From their perspective, they could not have won.  Just as, for the world today, when the oil runs out, we are going to starve.

Movies you should see:

  • End of Suburbia
  • Crude
  • Orwell Rolls in his Grave
  • Outfoxed
  • Tapped
  • The Real Dirt on Farmer John
  • The Corporation
  • ABC documentary Earth 2100
  • Watching The Real News with Paul Jay
I have avoided mentioning films that are excessively conspiracy theorist oriented. This is a list of films that are more factual and less theoretical. The films that wildly speculate about our future and rely on many outlandish claims can sometimes be entertaining, but should not be relied upon for serious information.I would recommend the Zeitgeist 2 documentary to see a description of a human society that would be sustainable. That film will answer the question that is often asked, “Well, what do you propose we should do as humans if you are saying that our way of life doesn’t work?”

© David Metcalf


edit: 7/4/2015, some several years later. . .
I should like to say that I have been searching for answers for these problems.  I should say the odds are stacked against us, but I am not advocating quitting the task ahead nor am I trying to breed cynics.  One must comprehend the depth of the problem and the stakes before applying energy to a solution.  Beware the person with a simple answer for all the world’s troubles.  If we should find an answer, we need to find it together.  A French-style revolution fails because it leads to a Napoleon.  We need everyone to work together on a more sustainable future.  The technologies are there, but the ways they are applied are determined by those who define the social needs of the day.  Should we all get a say in what those needs actually are, I sense a more sensible world may be possible.  Anyhow, I wanted to amend this post a bit.  This was written during  a period in my life when I was still researching the depth of the problem.

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2 responses to “Essential Movie List (that will convince you that we’re totally screwed)

    • So looking at the world the way it actually is is pessimism?

      Let’s consider an analogy:

      Some very poor scientists want to do the standard optimist/pessimist psychological study. Their subjects are to walk in a room and describe the object sitting on the table. Since these are bad scientists, they tell the subjects to look at the object optimistically.

      The first subject goes in the room and, as instructed, spins a yarn about how the object is a decadent chocolate sundae with a cherry on top. The scientists approve and mark “optimist” on their check-sheet.

      The second subject walks in the room and is taken aback by the object on the table. He looks at the one-way mirror, puzzled, and says, “It’s just a piece of shit.” This upsets our poor scientists, and they speak through the speaker mounted on the wall, “Yes, this is pig-shit to be precise. But remember, try to look at the object optimistically.” The subject is confused, the object in question is just a piece of pig-shit. There are no buts about it, and no positive spin that could make him believe he likes or desires this object.

      So now let’s consider your response, “Pessimism is as pessimism does.” Is my calling a spade a spade your basis for deciding that I possess abundant pessimism about the world?

      Looking at the way the world the way it actually is is vital to improving it. You can’t fix wrongs and start moving in the right direction if you live in a fantasy about how things really work.

      I once saw an activist say that the trick to not being disillusioned is to not be illusioned in the first place. This is an extention of my idea that we need to be honest about the way things actually are if we are going to change them. For this understanding, you glibly label me as a pessimist.

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