Story of Stuff

I’ve been a huge fan of Annie Leonard’s Web-based video, “The Story of Stuff,” since it first appeared in 2007.  It lays out in a crystal clear and non-divisive (or partisan) way the impact our current process of consumption in the West has on our planet, our neighbors, and ourselves.  One valid critique of the video is that it is short on practical “what now?” information, except that which can be found on the rest of the site after watching the 20-minute video.  Nevertheless, Leonard’s mission is one of whistleblowing and education, and I believe awareness of crucial societal issues will depend heavily on the creation and dissemination of media like hers — media that present complex problems in simple, reproducible ways.

Anyway, it was nice to see a front-page nod with a picture to the Story of Stuff in Monday’s New York Times. While the NYT article gives an overview of the history of the video, its news hook is a battle that is being waged in Missoula, Montana, over the use of the SoS in a classroom.  According to the article, the school board ruled “that screening the video treaded on academic freedom after a parent complained that its message was anticapitalist.”

Anticapitalist.  Heh.

Look, I’m no raging commie and there are certainly aspects of capitalism that I very much enjoy, but I’m not sure the Big C is exactly the invincible tank we in the US once thought it was.  I’d say it’s been shown to be quite fallible over the last, oh, three years or so.  Last time I checked, everyone was talking about how many of those economic “truths” we accepted blindly are systematically crumbling around our feet.  Against a dreary backdrop of environmental devastation, economic collapse and corruption, and global poverty, we could actually use a few hundred more videos, Web sites, and books like Leonard’s SoS — media that ask the tough questions about our economic assumptions and suggest new paths forward.


One response to this post.

  1. The definitive critique to the Story of Stuff:


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