We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Cinema of Containerism

Click here to access article by Kim Nicolini from The Greanville Post. 

Nicolini in this article reviews two films in which containerization plays a key role. It is the first film, Captain Phillips, that interests me the most because it offers an illustration of the propaganda functions of the entertainment industry. 

The Hollywood film studio (Columbia Pictures) in this reportedly true story makes some mention of some realities related to containerization facing working people like high levels of unemployment, however such serious issues are very much in the background. Instead, it plays up the hero theme of the central character of Captain Phillips.
...the whole point of containerization is to move products of global capitalism in invisible form. Oceans are the delivery system for commodities made in countries too poor to fight for unions or a deserving living wage. Dolls, TVs, cell phones and sneakers are packed into anonymous orange and blue containers, loaded onto ships and then sent to the United States where consumers miraculously find these goods lining the shelves of Best Buy and Walmart.
Any film that is widely distributed in the United States must have large amounts of money behind it. First, it must have a large Hollywood corporation who have access to production facilities and talent, it must have corporate distributors to see to it that the film is played in corporate owned cinemas throughout the country. It requires corporate owned news media to give it good reviews so that it attracts large audiences. Many other rich sources of money must back the film's production such as insurance companies and investors.

As you can see, every element in this industry requires large concentrations of money which are controlled by private interests. The system of capitalism makes such concentrations possible, indeed, probable; and people with money love the system not only for the material rewards that money brings, but also the influence or power that accompanies the control and concentration of money. 

Hence, it follows naturally as night follows day that capitalist production of films would not want to look seriously at the huge problems of unemployment and de-industrialization in the US, the exploitation of cheap labor in foreign lands, and definitely not the system that promotes such activities and effects. What capitalists much prefer to do is to divert our attention to heroes which is a favorite theme throughout the entertainment industry.  Heroes overcome the obstacles in their lives and we are invited to do likewise, or to look to others for our salvation.