I’ve been on a bit of a documentary kick lately. I’ve already talked about I.O.U.S.A. and I just finished Maxed Out, which takes on personal debt and the credit card companies as opposed to the national debt. Just like I.O.U.S.A. it serves as a wake-up call for financial responsibility. I first had this wake-up call after attending a Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace class about a year ago and I can’t stress enough how important is for the individual to maintain financial responsibility. Debt is crushing people out there so I suggest you take control before it comes down on you. One probem I had with Maxed Out is that they never told the consumer to take control of their finances. All the film did was points it’s finger at the big, bad credit card companies and debt collectors and while I agree that these companies take advantage of consumers, I also believe that these consumers have the opportunity to avoid a lot of this if only they would take financial responsibility and control
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room was another pretty fantastic film. It seems like between this one, I.O.U.S.A. and Maxed Out we cover governmental financial irresponsibility, corporate financial irresponsibility, and personal financial irresponsibility. So that makes for a nice trio. It’s a very interesting film and it leaves you with a pretty good understanding of why that company was destined to fail.
I also just recently saw Harvard Beats Yale 29-29. Certainly an interesting little documentary about an extremely interesting football game. It’s wild how many people are mentioned as being associated with the team, who went on to become quite famous. People like George W. Bush, Al Gore, Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Garry Trudeau. I also was very impressed to learn about Brian Dowling. Dowling was the inspiration for B.D. in Trudeau’s Doonesbury comic and up to the point of that tie, there had not been a game in which Dowling had started and finished and been on the losing team since the 7th grade. That is just amazing. I do not know how he fared collegiately from a W-L standpoint after the Harvard game, but that’s a remarkable feat. He didn’t fare too well in the NFL though.
I also just watched Super High Me, which chronicles comedian Doug Benson’s “investigation” into the affects of marijuana on the human body and mind. Inspired by Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, Benson takes it on himself to not smoke marijuana for 30 days while undergoing a litany of tests. Then he follows that up with 30 days where he smokes so much that he’s high during pretty much every waking hour. I think he could have done more in the way of medical testing. I exaggerated when I used the term “litany”. There is also a point where the DEA is raiding and shutting down medicinal marijuana dispensaries and I believe he should have done more to show the legality of those actions. Yes, the filmmaker did point out it was legal with a quick message on the screen, but no one ever dared argue with the protesters who were acting so offended or even ask those tough questions to play devil’s advocate and inspire the protesters to choose their words wisely. At one point you hear a protester yell (Or maybe this is a combination of two quotes) “The DEA isn’t doing their job! Their job is to stay out of California!” …uhhh, how remarkably stupid is that? That is the DEA’s job? Well why isn’t someone paying me? I’ve stayed out of California my whole life. In this film we also see Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt (of Big Fan fame), Dave Navarro, and the apparent Prince of Pot, Marc Emery. (Who knew?)
So do I feel more educated? Well, I dunno. I certainly prefer the classroom. Not in the sense that it’s more enjoyable, or easier to have a conversation about. But in the sense that if you take a class on a topic you should leave it with a pretty solid foundation of knowledge. These films are great for digging that hole for you to pour that foundation, but they are not a foundation. For one they are almost always biased. Maybe the bias is subtle (I.O.U.S.A.) or maybe the bias is obvious (Super High Me). Either way it exists. Yes, I’m sure it exists in the classroom also, but in the class room you spend much more time on the topics, also you are usually sent out to write things like research papers, which encourage you to do your own fact finding. This leads to a more rounded informational intake. Which in itself is probably the main reason the class room is a better way to learn. The breadth of information is much wider. That can’t even be denied so I’m not gonna to even explain myself.
I have another batch of documentaries lined up to watch so maybe in a couple weeks I’ll be doing this again. I don’t see why not. I would suggest all of these if you have plenty of time. It just turns out that the way I ordered them in this blog is probably the same order I’d suggest watching them.