Sunday, November 16, 2008

THE SHOCK DOCTRINE



The Shock Doctrine
Dir. Jonas Cuaron, USA, 2007, approx. 7 min
Source: www.theshockdoctrine.com

On the surface The Shock Doctrine seems to be a nice short documentary that uses archival footage and Banksy style of graphics to tell us how shock has been used to push through a free market agenda. But, in the deepness of its subject it turns around to be an advertisement for the book of the same name… or is it? At plain sight the answer might be yes, but let’s say the movie was stopped at min 6:03 right before “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein www.shockdoctrine.com” slate appears. Before it, the short holds on its own.

Archival footage from the 40s and instruction manuals from the CIA are cited as the source. Such footage and graphics explain how shock was used by the CIA to breakdown prisoners. The short then goes unto how natural disasters, wars, and terrorist attacks work in the same way but their effects distress entire societies and how Milton Friedman has promoted passing free market policies during such times. But, the major issue with the movie is not of content and whether or not you agree with it, after all people will be just as pro or con on the subject as they would with any feature length documentary. The Shock Doctrine seems to be trying to go beyond its economy smart target audience, it wants to go beyond the few young (liberal) readers of the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, etc. and grab the attention of those who fail to pay much attention to economic theories but have bought into the free market ideas of our generation, high consumer and most importantly internet junkies.


The short is clearly trying to indoctrinate or at least trying to get a generation wake up, to change. It sounds like a grandiose attempt to inscribe to a 6min short, but the attempt is there. Also there, is the fact that in criticizing the shock doctrine it uses the same technique to promote a book. But, considering the target audience it is not a far stretch. The most viewed online shorts are the most shocking ones, or otherwise it would be just another short that only the friends of its creator pay attention to. With a bunch of slightly ADD twenty-something they have got to deliver quickly, and use as many “relatable” info as possible. And while there is no comment from Foreign Policy the UK company responsible for the graphics, they do resemble Banksy’s style which will resonate with any rebel-leftist type and the modern art lovers. Its pace then propels the criticism that the short gives a bunch of facts without foundation, but the intent is to make the internet junkie generation go looking for more. And we are back at the beginning with the question of advertisement; yes Klein’s book will provide the missing content for the facts and yes it will make the viewers at least visit the website. But that does not necessarily makes the film an ad; it is more a book to film case. The difference here is that we aren’t given a one hour documentary it’s a short. It is our own tendency to see shorts as commercial snippets and calling cards that make us have an adverse reaction to it.


“Information is shock resistance. Arm yourself”

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

What shocking visuals! to think that we would put people under that sort of....torture....is crazy to me....it makes me angry and sad that people would stoop to that level.

editor said...

Es primera vez que oigo hablar de esta escritora. gracias a este post me interese un poco en buscar su trabajo.
realmente me parece que el autor del post tiene un entendimento real del proposito del corto. si bien es cierto que se creo en base a un libro, el contenido no busca promo, muestra por el contrario una teoria una tendencia de como se hacen las cosas, en la que muy pocos habian pensado.

editor said...

la desorientación de las personas, aprovecharse de un evento para vender una idea, o tapar asuntos. eso es visto mucho y realmente poco analizado en mi país casi siempre que el pueblo esta investigando algún caso de corrupción surge algún problema que impacta por otro lado y el caso anterior queda en el olvido. es una manipulación a la que estamos sometidos ya de modo inconsciente.

Sarah said...

The editing is amazing! The short starts out as yet another archival-based documentary exposing the atrocities of the government but then it becomes an amazingly powerful example of the Kuleshov montage. It’s right there in your face, it is meant to shock (of course!) and it works.

Drew Rosensweig said...

This mixed media approach to selling a product is something that seems weird, especially in relation to the product at hand, but is this a truly new approach? How many TV specials have been produced to promote a new film release? Whatchu know about that, Disney Channel "Movie Surfers?"

Anonymous said...

Good way to persuade the audience to get the book. Marketing is needed and they used a really shocking way to make people get involve in the topic.

Anonymous said...

If this film wants to get more audience put all the dramatic images that already have combined with sound effect. The lack of music makes it boring and nonreal.

Anonymous said...

wow! what a good document, informative and persuation are combined either to get more costumers for the book or to make people worried about all the bad things that are happening.

Carolina said...

This documental has an indirect label infront saying "PLEASE BUY THE BOOK"

Raul said...

It kind of looks like a documentary made by Michael Moore … a bit shocking…

Pamela said...

I really don't think we need music. All the sounds effects and music at the begining are calculated, they are shocking. Music would distract you from watch they are saying. There's a kind emptyness in the sound, that to me, reflects how detached capitalism is.