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The Story of Stuff July 1, 2009

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Academically Speaking, Odds and Ends.
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If it were at all possible for Al Gore, Tom Friedman, Naomi Klein, and Michael Moore ever to collaborate on a video about the perils of modern day consumerism and its environmental effects, the result would probably be something like The Story of Stuff.

Produced by former Greenpeace activist Annie Leonard, I first caught wind of the video via a New York Times article discussing how it was being used in class by a growing number of teachers, to mixed reactions from students, parents, and school administrators. Curious, I decided to check it out, and now understand what the fuss — both positive and negative — is all about.

Overall, I think it’s great that materials such as this are critical of the excesses and, at times, the unintended consequences of the modern-day economy. More so in the post-subprime, post-Lehman, post-financial meltdown world. Especially so. Yet it’s equally unfortunate that The Story of Stuff is unabashedly slanted in its presentation. There’s a fair bit of political innuendo thrown into the mix, unnecessary to be sure and terribly inelegant. Even-handed political advocacy? Cool. Political advocacy by allusion and insinuation? Not cool.

More’s the pity, as there is clearly a need for something like this that forces us to reexamine our lifestyles, both as individuals and for society as a whole. Is it fit for educational purposes? I’d say no, or at the very least it should be used with more than a grain of salt. Of course, I could be wrong. If the video is anything to go by, “to each his own” is a large part of what got the world into the mess it’s in to begin with. Yet that’s the admonishon I’d say applies best to The Story of Stuff.

[The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard]

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