Wednesday, 21 November 2012

How can we turn the Occupy movement into a cash cow?

Previously I made a blog post about the Occupy movement and my feelings on the matter, which you can read here. Since then a lot has happened, most notably the breakup of the heart and soul of the movement which is the protests congregating in public parks. The people themselves are still out there and they are actively looking for a way to affect change. During that time though came Velcrow Ripper, a filmmaker with a vested interest in the various movements that pop up from time to time and how they have evolved. I had a chance to see the film Occupy Love, a film referred to as the third in a trilogy about the importance of love in the movements and what they represent.
Now it’s worth saying that I have not seen his previous films and so the context under which I say this is primarily through what he said during the Q&A and the film itself. But given what I saw, I am not surprised that I have never heard of him before. In my previous review of the film Lost Rivers I talked about the importance of conflict and contrast in a film whether narrative or documentary. You can find out whether or not Lost Rivers had it here. But when it comes to Occupy Love, we have a different problem regarding conflict. The conflict is in a sense right in front of you, the Occupy movement had a legitimate gripe against the businesses and governments that they believe are bringing down the people and their individual ability to prosper.
But conflict doesn’t mean anything if you have no interest in contrast. Occupy Love is essentially a love story to the Occupy movement. All of the people being interviewed and discussions happening are all done through the prism of “What we are doing is awesome and the people in power are scared” without actually bothering to check whether or not that is in fact the case. Having listened to a lot of people talk about the Occupy movement in the news and elsewhere from outside the movement itself, I don’t think you can reasonably say that the movement had any serious effect on the status quo. The “powers that be” were interested in what the movement wanted and what they were doing, but the movement itself had no specific demands for them to consider.
You can’t affect change with an abstract idea and without a functional hierarchical power structure to report to, which is part of what the movement was fighting against. By the same token, a film can’t be entirely one sided without something to contrast it with. At no point did a Wall Street insider get interviewed or a politician of some kind who could have presented another viewpoint for the audience to see. They made no attempt to look at it from a business perspective or any other perspective then the one it supported. That doesn’t make a movie and you ultimately will end up losing any audience that doesn’t already agree with the perspective being put forward.
Most problematic of all when it comes to this film, is the repetition of the question “How do we turn this movement into a movement about love?” It’s supposedly the central focus of the film but it’s one that is never really answered by the filmmaker and the people he asks the question to seem to all have the same answer. After two or three times, the question becomes rather annoying, much like the film itself about half way through, the other half of which is most likely torturous to a general audience. But it won the Best Canadian Feature Film award at the festival, so I have a better question to ask.
How do you turn the Occupy movement into a cash cow? You make a movie called Occupy Love.

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