Hey, Wanna Go To The Movies, Eat Popcorn And Then Commit Some Civil Disobedience?

Going to the movies just isn’t what it used to be.  In the olden days, you bought a ticket, plunked yourself into a seat, ate the popcorn and escaped from reality for a couple of hours.  No more.  It truly is a sign of the times that within the space of a week, two different movies opened that are not only hugely entertaining, but also offer biting analysis of our current economic crisis, globalization and climate change and implore viewers to not only watch but to also take action.

If Econ 101 made no sense to you and  guys like Greenspan and Geithner sound like they are speaking in tongues, go see Michael Moore’s Capitalism:  A Love Story, all will be illuminated. The movie is funny and informative, but much more importantly, Moore intends it as a call to action,

As far as I’m concerned, Tea Bag Nation ends today — at noon to be precise. For that’s when I set loose, on a thousand screens across this great land, a movie I’ve made that’s so relentless, so dangerous, so damning in its humor, that it will — I can only hope — do what no movie has done before: Take them down, take them all down, once and for all.

On his website he has a “Do Something” page with links to organizations working on such issues as health care reform, the foreclosure crisis, subprime lending and information about the much and erroneously maligned ACORN.

While Moore leaves the choice of action up to you, the Yes Men, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, ask for something that I don’t think has ever  been asked in a major movie rollout–they are asking viewers to hit the streets and maybe even participate in a global civil disobedience action. Really. The Yes Men Fix The World, for lack of a better term, vivisects globalization and corporate greed and exposes it for what it is, and somehow manages to deliver its message despite the fact that the audience is laughing so hard they are gasping for air.

And then as the lights go on, they ask you to join them in protesting the truths they’ve just exposed.  During the opening nights, thus far, the audience has marched out of the theater and gone to  Whole Foods, JP Morgan Chase and an ICE detention center along with megaphones, musical instruments and Survival Balls.

Prior to the movie opening they also used the Survival Balls in a protest at the U.N. where Bichlbaum was arrested.  One thing learned–apparently it is quite difficult to handcuff someone in a Survival Ball.

Which leads us to what the Yes Men are really leading us to–civil disobedience:

Our film is a small part of a movement to help make that happen. Another part is BeyondTalk.net – a website we recently launched in collaboration with a dozen direct-action activists. The idea is to get 10,000 folks to sign the “Climate Pledge of Resistance” and risk arrest to demand sane climate-change policy. On November 30, the tenth anniversary of the Seattle protests, and a week before the Copenhagen climate talks, those 10,000 activists will form the largest civil disobedience action in recent protest history.

Will this hilarious call to get off our butts work?  I don’t know but consider the following collection of headlines from the last week alone:

In Louisville Kentucky where the jobless rate is more than 10%, 10,000 people lined up to apply for 90 jobs.

You would have to go back at least 15 million years to find carbon dioxide levels on Earth as high as they are today.

Within 15 years, public systems on average will have less half the money they need to pay pension benefits, according to an analysis by Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Other analysts say funding levels could hit that low within a decade.

After losing about $1 trillion in the markets, state and local governments are facing a devil’s choice: Either slash retirement benefits or pursue high-return investments that come with high risk.

Eighteen months ago, no one dared imagine humanity pushing the climate beyond an additional two degrees C of heating, but rising carbon emissions and inability to agree on cuts has meant science must now consider the previously unthinkable.
“Two degrees C is already gone as a target,” said Chris West of the University of Oxford’s UK Climate Impacts Programme. “Four degrees C is definitely possible.”

Thousands of people swarmed Cobo Hall in chaos this morning trying to get applications for housing and utility payment assistance from the city of Detroit.

The City of Detroit Planning & Development Department was to pass out 5,000 applications to those standing in line. But a line of people snaking back and forth inside Cobo, down Washington Boulevard and around the corner to the circular parking deck far outnumbered the applications available.

“Today, one-third of mortgages are underwater, and if housing prices continue to drop, some experts estimate that one half of all mortgages will exceed the value of the homes they secure,”

Meanwhile, in a bizarre parallel universe, the DJIA keeps going back up and every week or 2 someone proclaims the recession over.  Well maybe (for now) on Wall Street but it sure the heck is not on Main Street.

When I was growing up we learned that it was good for companies to grow and produce more goods because then people had jobs and things to purchase with the money they earned making said things.  But in a jobless “recovery” which is what appears  to be happening now, that relationship is suddenly exposed for the fraud that it is, and we are now being confronted with the small print at the bottom of the contract that says there will also be an environmental price to pay for all the stuff we’ve been producing and long story short, instead of taking us along for the ride, what is going up on Wall Street is going down on Main Street. (For an additional reality check about what  has and hasn’t happened economically during the last year, see this compendium of ups and downs.)

If, like me, you’ve had enough, go to Beyond Talk and sign up.  If you can’t commit civil disobedience, you can sign up for legal acts of protest. We may not be able to fix the world, but we can damn well stop trashing it. The only way that is going to happen, however, is if we are  willing to stand up for ourselves. Yes, I mean you.  Just do it.

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