The Face of Poverty, a Short Film on SnagFilms

Hi all…

To continue the theme of poverty started by the Blogger Action Day movement, I thought I’d feature one of the short documentaries I’ve found on the web about poverty in New York.

The following is the abstract for the film at SnagFilms.

“This short film confronts America’s widening poverty gap through a creative journey along New York City streets, observing the stark contrast between the rich and the poor contained within only a few blocks. People from all walks of life, whether they live on the street or study at Columbia University, approach the glaring problem through unique perspectives. The viewer sees the honest tour of New York’s poverty gap and ideas of how to solve it, through the thoughts of everyday people and through the eyes of poverty herself.”

Let’s rise above our differences and open our eyes to see solutions to the common problems on our own streets.

–Fitz

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Poverty and Hollywood…

Hi all…

Until recently, I had never really given poverty much thought. But with Blogger Action Day coming up, it’s made me think about it some.

If you go back as far as the silent movies with Charlie Chaplin, one of his best loved characters was the Tramp. He never had enough to eat and lived in hard times. But many people were facing hard times back then, so it was good to see a character you could identify with and see the humor in things.

Poverty in movies today isn’t quite as easy to see. There are a few movies here and there focusing on poverty or hardship growing up, but the blockbuster makes more money, so we see more of those from the big studios. Documentaries don’t make money (unless your name is Spurlock). And so it seems to have fallen out of the public eye.

I know I’m guilty of avoiding documentaries where I am not entertained. I go to the movie to enjoy myself, not to be educated or guilted into feeling bad. It doesn’t take much to make me feel bad at the movies. I’m a sentimental fool. And yet it’s interesting how often you see poverty slipped into even modern blockbusters.

Babylon A.D. starts in a war-torn area of Russia. People are trying to sell guns to get money for food.

Death Race is set in a world where the economy has crashed, everyone is fighting over jobs, and too many people are put in jail because they have to fight to survive.

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden focused on finding Bin Laden, but showed us some of the hardship facing people living in Afghanistan. They had to buy tents on the black market.

Even in the background of The Incredible Hulk, you got to see the poverty and crowded conditions in South America where Bruce Banner was hiding.

So though we’re not seeing “movies about poverty” from Hollywood, the writers and directors are showing us slices of the world that includes poverty. They may not talk about how to solve it. But it’s there.

It’s just sad that these “powerful” people in Hollywood can’t see their way to directing some of their resources to raising awareness of the problem as a way to help solve it.

Can you imagine if Warner Brothers Pictures took part of the $900+ million dollars raised so far by The Dark Knight and [gasp] donated it to a worthy cause?

What would happen if every studio, for one year, decided to donate 10% of the income generated by all their movies? Think about the millions of dollars that would go to worthy charities.

But the odds of that happening are slim. Movie making is a business. Giving away profits is something the little fish do for publicity, not the big fish. But it does pose an interesting what if…

So the next time you watch a movie at the theater, keep an eye out for the signs of poverty. It’s there somewhere.

–Fitz

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Blog Action Day is Coming… October 15, 2008

World map showing percent of population living...Image via Wikipedia

Hi all…

Blog Action Day is a united effort for thousands of writers around the world to raise awareness on a single issue. For 2007, the issue was the environment. For this year, 2008, the issue is poverty.

Nobody has a universal answer to solve the poverty problem around the world. Individuals may have pieces of the puzzle, but there isn’t a straightforward answer. By asking thousands of people to provide their opinions, we raise not only awareness of the issue, but the spectre of hope. We can only hope that by joining voices, we can all do our part to make the poverty problem a little less of an issue. Every little bit makes a difference.

If you’re interested in some of the various resources on the web about the current poverty crisis, you can check out:

Though Blog Action Day is not the only organization making an effort to raise awareness about the global poverty problem, it’s a good way for concerned individuals and organizations to get involved.

I hope to write a number of articles over the next few months, leading up to Blog Action Day itself.

Won’t you join the effort?

–Fitz

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