Viewing Pleasures

I’ve added a new Category of Links to my blog today.  It’s called, as you may have been able to surmise, “Viewing Pleasures.”

Here I will add links to movies that I find interesting.   Of course, Monika and I like to watch movies, and especially as a result of us not having cable in our house.  But, these links won’t necessarily be movies that are great cinema or simple fun to watch.  More so, they will be links to documentaries that, at the very least, have made me think.   In addition, there is a “Type of Verge” called Cinema reviews, which are just some thoughts on movies I’ve watched.  If they’re good enough, they get a link in Viewing Pleasures.  If not, screw ’em.

I won’t say that everything I will list here I automatically have swallowed whole and taken as a definitive viewpoint.  I will say that most of them must have at least struck a chord that is in some significant harmony with my current views.  They may have bolstered my opinions.  I list them only for your consideration, not as prognostication.

I will also add that the links are to the direct websites that often times will allow you to watch the films in full.  However, Netflix also often offers them as streaming movies, and YouTube often has them broken into parts for your not so conveniently packaged but still completely free viewing pleasure.

Tonight, I briefly introduce my first three recommendations:

The first links to a movie called “Fast Food Nation” based on a book by the same name by Eric Schlosser.  It is the only movie I’ve listed tonight that is a work of fiction, based on the factual evidence in the book.  Directed by Richard Linklater, it takes a look at how our current fast food culture values the bottom line far more than animal ethics  and worker safety.  Instead of generically describing the machination of the fast food industry, it instead tries to strike a more moving note by assigning actual characters as embodiments of the roles all sides of the industry can take on.  One of his more indie style films, it walks a delicate line between the raw truth and an uncomfortable humor, thus making it a bit more palatable for the skeptical, pessimistic, meat-consuming viewer.

The second is a documentary called “Food, Inc.”  I just finished watching this one and haven’t fully digested what I think about it.  In general, it takes a look at the way our agricultural life has morphed from a once pastoral lifestyle to an ugly, manipulative, big-business monopoly.  It focuses on some of the hottest topics in the current food debate including corn, factory farming, pesticides, mass-production, label manipulation, genetic engineering, the FDA and government oversight, and of course, fast food.  Because it does not push an overwhelming vegetarian lifestyle, but merely tries to show the direction of food delivery in a modern culture of “cheaper, faster and instantly gratifying,” I think it gives a more neutral portrayal than PETA could ever give.

The final selection is “King Corn.”  This entire movie takes the singular subject of the corn industry in modern American agriculture.  It documents how government subsidies dictate the cost of food that farmers produce, and therefore, what ingredients are included in the food we consume, regardless of nutritional value or consumer desires.  It also documents an interesting experiment that the filmmakers stretch through the duration of the film:   what is it like to be a modern corn farmer?  As diabetes takes our youngest generation of Americans by the throat even before they’ve ever had a chance to make a different decision, I would highly recommend this film for anyone who want to know how the hell we got ourselves into the deplorable debacle of obesity in this country.

You can always find my recommended movies in my Links, currently on the right near the bottom.  ENJOY!

4 Responses to “Viewing Pleasures”

  1. It’s very easy, as these films do, to blame the woes of our food production system for the obesity of America. Perhaps instead we should look to ourselves. As long as we continue to consume more than we need and then do not exercise enough, we will have obesity. It’s the self control of the individual that is the key.
    My wife’s family is prone to diabetes and they have held off the problem in the last two generations by a rigorous diet and plenty of exercise. The problem still lingers, but it is possible to live with.
    A vegan lifestyle is not the answer to our worlds food problems. We need balance in all things. There is so much of this earth that is simply not usable for production of fruits and veggies. Intense production of most fruits and veggies demands as much or more use of fertilizer and pesticides as of corn, soybeans and wheat.
    There are serious problems in all of these films. Their documentation of what really happens on the farm focuses on the few problems we have and ignores the more prevalent good things that are happening.
    I wonder when fries became a veggie. Our fast food nation seems to think so. I feel that our nations love affair with starches such as potatoes and the sugars and pseudo sugars in soda are a larger part of the obesity problem than eating meat.

  2. Of course it’s very easy to blame our health problems on food and exercise. What else could be the causes? When I come across a documentary that covers the issues of declining fitness programs in schools and an increasingly sedentary lifestylye the people of urban environments seems to like so much, I will certainly watch it and post it. There is no doubt in my mind that personal choice has a lot to do with the foods we eat, but as Food Inc. points out, there are also financial, demographic and supply and demand issues that greatly affect what becomes available for us to choose in the first place. If any of these films mentionend that the answer to a problem was that we all should become vegans, I must have missed it. Regarding the “serious problems” in all of these films: These documentaries were filmed to bring to light some of the problems that our food industry faces, not to also expose the advances we’ve made over the past century. Perhaps that documentary exists, and I would be happy to watch that as well. However, that is not the message that these film makers chose to talk about. That is a personal decision on the part of the film maker, not a “flaw.” Regarding the issues of sugars and soda, I agree, as does the entire film King Corn.

    I love and invite anyone who reads my blog to weigh in on their opinions.

  3. Sorry, I get up on my soap box when ever someone uses these films to attack folks here trying to produce food for our world. I am a nearing retirement corn and soybean farmer. I used to raise hogs and beef cows in my younger days. But I do find a flaw in the logic of KIng Corn.
    If there was not a market for the products I raise, then I would be foolish to keep raising them. The fact is that corn is being used more and more for an industrial feed stock. The production of plastics and motor fuel are some of the latest ones.
    The farm subsidies that King Corn talks about no longer exist. It has been a long time since the government paid me to plant anything. Most of the “Problems” talked about in these films are long ago abandoned.
    Unfortunately all of life has moved on. The life of the farmer was forever changed when Johnny came marching home from WWII and found he could make more money in town than on the farm. I would not want to return to the world of my grandfathers. I doubt you would either.
    Please, these movies offend those of us left out here in rural America. We are trying to build a better future, not live in the past.

  4. Michael, I truly appreciate your feedback on this subject. It genuinely excites me to connect with someone who is on the front lines of a battle that is too often armed with rhetoric and ignorance. It is true that I am a vegetarian, but I do not wish to, nor have I ever waged war against the rural, agricultural farmer.

    I choose not to eat meat, but I am also not opposed to meat eating. I find myself, as many others, in the middle of an ever increasing, diametrically opposed war between corporate America and bleeding hearts. I think there is, and can be, a fair and balanced medium. I’ve been reading your blog and I find that your views are certainly not extremist. For instance, while in a ideal world, everything would be organic, I also agree that a moderate use of pesticides, GE crops and fertilizers really do generate more good than evil.

    I’m glad you have chosen to respond here because I now have the opportunity to talk to someone who indeed is in the thick of things. I truly look forward to communicating with you on subjects in the future and I hope you will reciprocate. I hope that our communication can deliver readers of both of our blogs a balanced and truly democratic debate on these subjects.

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