Forget Shorter Showers
by Tom Shadyac (2011)
Forget Shorter Showers is a documentary based on an essay by anarchist Derrick Jensen that challenges neoliberal dogma that makes each of us personally responsible for reversing the ongoing environmental destruction caused by industrial capitalism. Consumers who have joined the campaign to fly and use their cars less, change their light bulbs and take shorter showers are the victims of systemic misdirection by a pernicious PR industry. The latter continuously churns out propaganda that we can save the planet through market-based solutions such as shopping.
Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth is a classic example of this deliberate misdirection. Instead of calling for policy changes that hold corporate polluters to account, his film deliberately disguises the reality that industry is responsible for the vast majority of carbon emissions. In doing so, Gore incorrectly blames powerless individuals for the climate crisis, instead of the elites who hold real the real power.
Lifestyle Only Accounts for 22% of Emissions
If the entire global population adopted a low carbon footprint lifestyle, it would only decrease carbon emissions by 22%. Climate scientists tell us we need to decrease them by 70% to stave off catastrophic climate disruption.
In a similar vein, reducing individual water usage isn’t going to solve the freshwater shortage. Ninety percent of all freshwater is used by agriculture and industry. Five percent is used by municipalities, and 5% by individuals.
Industry is also responsible for the vast majority of energy consumption and waste production.
How We’re Conned into Taking Personal Responsibility
The filmmakers point out that we’re easily conned into taking personal responsibility for all these environmental issues because it’s less scary than acting decisively to stop the industrial capitalism from destroying the planet. Among other fears, people worry the grid might go down, causing us to lose access electricity, clean water and cellphone service – not because we need these perks to survive but because we’ve become addicted to them.
Fear of state violence is also a biggie. The documentary provides numerous historic examples of courageous activists who have overcome such fears.