"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Garbage! is Pretty Much Garbage

There's a film, Garbage!, that's being shown in select cities for FREE, which is almost unheard of. I got a notice to bring my students. Being a conscientious teacher that day, I bought the DVD to preview the movie.

Despite the exclamation point in the title, the film is painfully dull. It's marketed to kids of all ages, but I couldn't get any of my own kids to watch more than ten minutes with me. The camera is hand held, and, maybe because he's a such a dad, the cameraman sways a bit as he films. You know, like you see parent of little ones do whenever they see a babe in arms even if their own arms are empty.

I had problems watching Blair Witch Project for the same reasons.

The "smash hit" Garbage! is the amazing story of one family who collects their garbage for three months just to show how much crap an average family accumulates. We really could have gotten a shot of the very end result and skipped all the rest. The family didn't change their lifestyle at all - which I had expected, so it didn't show what we should do and how simple it really is to change, only what we do do. And the family wasn't funny or interesting or in any way remarkable - which I guess was the point - to find an average family. Sometimes it was a bit awkward to watch their tiffs.

And even though they use disposable diapers, which is a post all on its own, they still do twenty loads of laundry a week!! What the hell? I have a family of the same size, and I do two to four loads a week. Now, I make everyone use the same towel over and over every day for a week. Our society is so cleanliness obsessive it's ridiculous - not to mention unhealthy and time consuming.

I didn't come away with any useful lessons on how to reduce my garbage, just a guilt trip about how much we all use and, for me, a sense of superiority for not making nearly this much garbage, not using disposable diapers, not doing 20 loads of laundry, etc. I would have liked to see the garbage sorted further. This family has access to the green bin program, so they dump their diapers and meat and food waste there, and they have access to a blue box recycling program, but they still ended up with a garage full of garbage. Some of it was because of Christmas and Hallowe'en, but still. What's in all those bags??

The film does have little interesting segments about where garbage goes. It was divided under different headings so teachers could make use of the video a little at a time showing select bits of info, but then they'd have to pay for the rights - usually about $200 more. I don't think it's worth the cost and trouble for something I can just as easily explain without the visual.

It's not really that horrible a film; it's just so so disappointing when environmental films that are informative don't go all the way to being good too. And it certainly wouldn't keep the attention of a group of high school kids. The big climax of the film was that this family makes lots and lots of garbage. We suspected that all along. Big deal. The denouement: the family and their neighbours were all happy to see the garbage get taken away. Wow. Even though it's a documentary, it still needs us to care about the characters and keep cheering for them. They're probably very nice people, but I didn't root for them to keep storing their garbage.

Oh well.

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