Film review; Bag It

How many innocents lose their lives,
In the gloss of the packaging?

Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay, by the great British punk singer TV Smith.

bag itBag It is a good documentary, in the vein of Roger and Me (where Michael Moore tried to get a face-to-face interview with a General Motors chairman), Supersize Me  (where a now-disgraced film-maker ate nowt but McDonalds for a month) and No Impact Man (guy minimises his waste footprint).  A “naïve” (that’s evian spelt backwards) everyman begins by investigating plastic bags, and as he goes, the scope gets wider and wider.  Meanwhile, his partner is pregnant.

Along the way he speaks to various experts about plastics’ impact on wildlife (especially in the oceans – it’s in these scenes that one’s loathing for the human species in all its grotesque vandalism could get on top of a viewer), the human impacts (phthlatates  and bisphenol A , and the awful conditions for people in the so-called ‘developing world’ as they cope with Westerners’ waste) and the counter-attacks of incumbents (hello American Chemicals Council) in defeating efforts to price or regulate plastic bags.  Essential2living my fat arse.

There’s stuff on the horrific carbon footprint of the production of and transportation of bottled water, talking heads with Elizbaeth Royte of Garbage Land, Annie Leonard (The Story of Stuff), Peter Coyote  (who is a great activist as well as a great actor) and a bunch of different scientists whose day job is to catalogue the demise of the species and ecosystems that they love.

There are a couple of dud notes (the ‘I like my lettuce like my ladies – loose’ told with a  winking leer is clearly a pre- #metoo moment (though I will be using it with the long-suffering Wife). Would it have killed them to have given a shout out to Rachel Carson  who warned about ocean pollution and human impacts, or to namecheck Barry Commoner as the originator of the oft-repeated line ‘there is no ‘away’’.  More seriously (and predictably) the ‘what to do’ list is crushingly individualistic, atomistic, largely apolitical.  Despite the film containing several examples of the nefarious anti-democratic actions of corporations and their trade associations, there is nothing in the list about being an active (and organised) citizen, of contesting the grotesque and ecocidal power of the corporate lobbyists. So it goes.

#Brexit and #Climate Change – a painful epiphany #saddleworthmoorfire

Explaining why I haven’t yet done the paperwork to get my Irish citizenship (to which I am entitled through my mum’s mum), I found myself saying to a new colleague

‘it’s because I hope – and I know it won’t happen – but I am still hoping for it – that the ‘British Establishment’ will collectively say “yeah, 52% of you voted for it to be the 1950s again, but it CAN’T be the 1950s again, and keeping on this path will destroy everything that you unthinkingly expect to be ‘normal.’ So we’re not doing it. We’ll have another referendum and now enough old idiots have died, and the young can vote in greater numbers, it will come out 52% to 48% the other way.”

And as I said this, hearing how absurd my hopes of averting disaster were by saying them out loud, I simultaneously  realised that Brexit is simply climate change in microcosm.  It’s an impending disaster (in this case with a firmer deadline) that in theory could have been made slightly less intolerable.  But rather than preparing for it – our lords and masters (and mistresses, hullo Mrs May) have pissed away all the available time in ridiculous verbiage, blame games and frankly delusional thinking.  And that goes not just at the international level, the national level, but down unto the local, with the laughable ‘Manchester Climate Change Agency’ and similar spineless follies.

I cannot tell you how glad I am to be pushing fifty.  There is a monumental shit storm coming.  I keep saying it, but this – the second half of the twenty-first century is going to make the first half of the twentieth look like a golden age of peace, love and understanding.