My Favourite Documentaries on NETFLIX

When Netflix & chill isn’t an option, sometimes, you just have to chill out with yourself and find a good movie to watch. And lately, I’ve been really getting into my documentaries. It might have something to do with feeling guilty when I actually do watch a film. So to compensate, I’ve been watching documentaries; an easy way to chill out and actually learn something new. So, if you too love a good doco and are looking for some new ones to add to your list, then look no further!

Chasing Ice (2012)

An amazing look at the dramatic changes happening as a direct result of Climate Change. A team of scientists venture to some of the most remote parts of the world, including Alaska, Greenland and Iceland. And having been to Iceland, it made watching this documentary even more incredible.

Perfect for: Those of you who love some beautiful cinematography, are interested in nature and concerned about climate change.

The True Cost (2015)

This documentary will make you close all of the online shopping tabs you have open. It follows your $10 top back through the supply chain to cotton farms in the US, to farms in rural India, to the factory workers in Bangladesh. It’s a fascinating look at where our clothes come from and the huge injustice of the fashion industry.

Perfect For: Those of you who love shopping the sales rack at stores.

Cowspiracy (2014)

Whilst at the People’s Climate March in Sydney last year, there were people everywhere holding signs saying ‘real environmentalists are vegan.’ Whilst I initially dismissed the thought straight away, it definitely planted a seed which prompted me to do some research for myself.

“Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.”

This just blew my mind. Whenever I used to think of CO2 emissions, I would always think of mining and fossil fuels. Whilst I’m not saying that Cowspiracy is what you should base all of your knowledge off of, because I personally believe it is highly propaganda-ish, but it is extremely eye opening to an issue not discussed in the media. And learning more about this issue inspired me to adopt a vegetarian diet.

Perfect for: Those of you curious about vegetarianism or veganism. Or alternatively, if you don’t want to subscribe to one of these labels, a reductionist (view TED Talk here)

Mission Blue (2014)

This documentary follows the story of Sylvia Earle, one of the world’s first oceanographers. She dedicated her life to the ocean, the life in it and the life that depends on it. Not only is Sylvia an incredibly inspiring woman, but the history and evolution of ocean exploration is looked at through a beautiful lens at a world just at our footsteps.

Perfect for: Those who have ever had their breath taken away by the beauty of the ocean. Also for those concerned for the future of our oceans and the effects that Climate Change has, especially in Australia.

Blackfish (2013)

This disturbing thriller showcases the issue of keeping majestic animals like Orcas in captivity in Sea World. Whilst I personally have issues with the portrayal being on the lives lost by several trainers at Sea World and not the orcas themselves, it still tells an incredibly powerful story of the harsh realities these beautiful animals face. As a result of this film, Sea World announced they would end their breeding program at the Orlando park. However, one of the main orcas in Blackfish, Tilikum, is suffering so much, that his health is rapidly deteriorating.

Perfect For: Those who are also passionate whale lovers and who see a huge breach of animal rights in the act of capturing, detaining and ‘training’ animals.

So there we go. Netflix has definitely provided the goods when it comes to documentaries. And if you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments below!

Happy watching and learning!

 

Further Information

TED Talk on being a REDUCTIONIST

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Activism: Are Good Intentions Good Enough?

“We’ll win if we work together as one, the people. The power of the people is so much stronger than the people in power” – Bono, 2013 TED Talk

“Problems should not be glamourized by the association of celebrities” – Dambisa Moyo

Bob Geldof and Bono campaigning against poverty. Source.
Bob Geldof and Bono campaigning against poverty. Source.

Bono is first and foremost, a singer. However recently he’s become the face of combatting poverty in Africa, and taken on the role as an activist, economist, politician, humanitarian and framed as an angel to save all of the ‘poor Africans.’ Throughout the 80’s, he worked with Bob Geldof on the Live Aid concerts and has heavily campaigned to fight poverty in Africa, especially Ethiopia. In 2005 he went on to campaign for the Make Poverty History Movement which was more focused on social justice rather than charity. And then in 2014, he is featured on the single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ to fight the ebola outbreak in West Africa, raising millions of pounds.

Bono brings his good intentions to Africa. Source
Bono brings his good intentions to Africa. Source

There is an issue here. Celebrities like Bono who become activists for large-scale social and humanitarian issues are not experts on poverty, inequality and sustainable development. Yet he has met with Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Bill Gates and various other politicians and powerful actors to generate policy change and create global awareness (Why Poverty, 2012). He has inadvertently become the face of anti poverty. Bono already has millions of people who look up to them, respect them, hate him or talk about him across the globe and he’s using a unique platform to spread his message.

Celebrities are not experts and can often oversimplify a very complex issue such as poverty. The infamous Make Poverty History video above features many different celebrities. Dambisa Moyo is a Ghanese economist and activist who is extremely ‘anti-Bono’ due to his ignorance of the complexity of poverty and lack of results. In a recent televised debate, Moyo states that the West needs to stop being sympathetic and start being empathetic and realizing that Africans are doing a lot of grassroots work to create change (Black Wall Street, 2015). Another issue is the media portrayal of Africa and their people as the victims, and people like Bono and Bob Geldof as the white saviour (Davis, 2010), which contributes to a sympathetic view of ‘poor Africa.’ Moyo says that, ‘Africa’s debt problems should not be glamourized by the association of celebrities who’s actions are more often than not self-perpetrating,’ (Fitzpatrick, 2011) and that is where we find the problem with celebrity activism.

The 2014 release of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ sparked controversy and further encourages this ‘poor Africa’ perception. It plays on one of the main parts of Moyo’s book, where she highlights how ‘the West is patronizing Africans’ (Easterly, 2009). The video is solely focused on the singers and celebrities that resonates with the Make Poverty History video of ‘spot the celebrity.’ Sure, it starts with some graphic images, and sure, they raised a lot of money… but is that enough?

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Africa re-conquered by Hollywood. Source

Celebrities are experts at grabbing people’s attention and creating emotional responses in people. The images and videos they broadcast are heart wrenching, because they’re designed that way. Nash explains that people need to see themselves as part of the ‘global political community’ (Nash, 2008). No one’s going to sign a petition, donate money or be a part of a protest unless they’ve felt personally motivated to do so, and celebrities can make this happen. Many argue that ‘at least celebrities are doing something with their power,’ but is it really justified if the damage they are creating is greater than their ‘good acts.’ Are good intentions, good enough?

So how do we ensure that the work celebrities are doing is progressive and beneficial for those affected by the issue they represent? Alex Dewaal says that there are ‘fundamental pillars of activism which should always be followed, most of all, the act of responding to and collaborating with local people, rather than imposing outside agendas’ (Dewaal, 2013). Celebrities should be held accountable and responsible for their actions. They shouldn’t engage in humanitarian activism unless they’re willing to follow through and commit to the cause they represent.

References

Black Wall Street, 2015, ‘Debate: Foreign Aid does more harm than good’, Black Wall Street, 13 March, 45:54 – 47:46, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWlLE7IohXo

Cole, G. Radley, B. Falisse, J.B 2015, ‘Who really benefits from celebrity activism?’, The Guardian, 10 July, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jul/10/celebrity-activism-africa-live-aid 

Davis, H 2010, ‘Feeding the world a line?: Celebrity activism and ethical consumer practices from Live Aid to Product Red’, Nordic Journal of English Studies, Miami University, Vol 9.3, pp 111-115

Dewall, A 2013, ‘Reclaiming Activism’, World Peace Foundation, 30 April, https://sites.tufts.edu/reinventingpeace/2013/04/30/reclaiming-activism/

Fitzpatrick, S 2011, ‘The Moyo-Bono Divide: What are the Opposing Sides?’, Hubpages, 14 February, http://siouxtrick.hubpages.com/hub/The-Moyo-Bono-Divide

Nash, K 2008, ‘Global citizenship as showbusiness: the cultural politics of Make Poverty History’, Media Culture Society, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 167-181

Why Poverty, 2012, ‘Give Us The Money’, Why Poverty, 10 December, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgGP3zV8kdU

Further Information

Bono’s 2013 TED Talk

Band Aid 30’s cover of Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Why Poverty’s documentary exploring the efforts of Bono and Bob Geldof along with their accomplishments and criticism