Sunday, November 16, 2008
THE SHOCK DOCTRINE
The Shock Doctrine
Dir. Jonas Cuaron, USA, 2007, approx. 7 min
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”