Climate Change: A Really Inconvenient Truth


A Really Inconvenient Truth

Directed by Cambiz Khosravi (2007)

Film Review

This film, a moving tribute to the late radical psychiatrist Dr Joel Kovel,* is a critique of Al Gore and his signature documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Owing to his failure to make important links between capitalism and global warming, Kovel believes Gore deserves much of the blame for the failure of the current climate movement to stop global warming.

Kovel’s main criticism of Gore, who first learned of the link between carbon emissions and global warming in the late seventies, was his failure to use his immense power as Clinton’s environmental point man to pursue government action to reduce carbon emissions. Instead Gore “played the game” and continued to advance the interests of the Wall Street corporations responsible for skyrocketing emissions (eg fossil fuel companies, car makers, etc). And the banks and PR and advertising companies responsible for unrelenting psychological pressure on Americans to over-consume.

Kovel believed Gore was deliberately dishonest about labeling climate change a “moral” issue. Instead of blaming capitalism and the corporate oligarchy for climate change, Gore blamed human nature. In the process, he played along with a system that seeks to “commodify” every human need and desire for its profit making potential. Ironically his documentary resulted in the creation of two brand new commodities: carbon credits and green technology.

According to Kovel, ending climate change is impossible without ending the continual economic expansion that is fundamental to capitalism.** Individuals are helpless to stop climate change through behavior change .

Kovel, who died in April 2018, was a presidential candidate in the 2000 Green Party primary but lost out to Ralph Nader.

*Commodification is confiscation of human needs and wants (land, goods, services and ideas) into products that can be sold for a profit.

**Kovel is a bit fuzzy about why continual expansion is essential under capitalism. I suspect it relates to Marx’s failure to address the role of private banks (in creating 98% of our money as debt) in infinitely increasing debt and the necessity of continuous economic expansion to pay it.

The Commodification of Female Sexuality

Sexy Baby

Directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus (2012)

Film Review

Sexy Baby is a documentary about the commodification of female sexuality and its destructive effect on young women’s identity and self-esteem. It follows three particular women over two years: a 13 year old girl in conflict with her parents over her sexually provocative Facebook postings, a 23 year old who undergoes labioplasty to make her genitals conform to what her boyfriends are seeing in on-line pornography and a pole dancer struggling to cast off her stripper persona for her to be fully appreciated for her intelligence, assertiveness and compassion.

I felt all three stories were very sensitively portrayed. They were interspersed with images of soft porn that most modern teenagers with Internet see from age 12-13 on via the Internet and interviews with teenage boys and men about their attitudes towards pornography and female sexuality.

I found the 13 year old Winifred’s story the most engaging. Winnie is a highly intelligent high achiever. Despite a close and loving relationship with both parents, she succumbs to massive peer pressure to dress provocatively and to post revealing images of herself on Facebook.

I strongly empathized with the parents’ struggle to deal with this behavior. I also strongly support their decision to ban her from Facebook (eight times over six months) whenever her postings became too extreme.

I must admit I prefer her father’s approach to her scanty outfits to her mother’s. Her mom takes the attitude: “It’s your body – you can dress the way you want to.” In contrast, her father is honest about the anxieties her provocative dress provokes in him.

Over time, this seems to be quite effective.