Finally, it is finished. After spending six months in Argentina and shooting 350 hours of footage, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein have completed their first documentary film. “The Take” is a riveting story about a group of metal workers from Buenos Aires who form a worker co-operative and take over the abandoned auto-parts factory where they once earned a good living. In the background, presidential candidates Néstor Kirchner and Carlos Menem go head-to-head in the first major elections in Argentina since the devastating economic collapse of 2001. Argentina is polarized between those who support the nascent worker democracy movement, and those who want to see a return to the elitist politics of the Menem era. Meanwhile, Maty, a young trainee at the worker-controlled Zanon Ceramics Factory will boycott the election process under the slogan: “Our Dreams Won’t Fit on Your Ballots.”
The first thing the young man sees as he emerges from The Corporation is the theatre’s bright, shiny Pepsi Machine. Where once he saw a harmless soft drink, he now sees a bloated and arrogant corporate product. He gives the machine a slap.
“So long, sucker. It’s over. I’m ready to give you up.”
Excuse me, may I have your cell phone? I see you’re wearing a pager; may I have that too? Your lap top computer, if you don’t mind? And I’ll take the palm pilot I see in your shirt pocket.
Feel like somebody’s bewildered, possibly hostile naked lunch without your high tech toys?
Welcome to the wrong side of the Digital Divide, the developing world in which hundreds of millions of poor people in the south are left behind the more prosperous people of the north at the lightning speed of the latest computer chip.
Somewhere in that great pile of Junos and Emmys, I hope there’s an Elephant on the Table Award for the performer who discovers something perfectly obvious during the making of a television series.
“The elephant on the table” is how communications experts describe something carefully overlooked and unmentioned but urgently important. It may sound impossible to ignore something so striking as a wild beast lounging in the middle of an ordinary room, but if the elephant is embarrassing enough, human beings can learn to do it.
Such an award, if it exists, ought to go to Samantha Bee. She’s the sweet-faced Canadian component on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart’s wildly popular half-hour news parody, which recently replaced Mike Bullard’s nightly talk show on CTV.
When Toronto began issuing gay-marriage licenses on June 10, 2003, WorldNetDaily quoted Toronto attorney Michael Lershner as saying “The argument’s over. No more political discussion, we’ve won, the Charter won, it’s a great day for Canada.” Lershner had good reason to celebrate. Justices in three provinces had just redefined marriage as being between “two persons” instead of ” a man and a woman,” giving gay and lesbian couples across the country (and visiting citizens of the United States and elsewhere) legal grounds to apply for marriage licenses.
However, hindsight shows Lershner’s proclamation that the political discussion is over to be a bit premature.
There were several changes of the guard at CD as we entered our third decade and with them a decidedly more diverse content. More than ever before our collective was drawn from activists in various popular movements. But the new diversity arose from more than the changing composition of the collective.
By the time this commentary appears, another mawkish, duplicitous Remembrance Day will be history. Editors, writers, producers and photographers will have looked for new ways to honor Canada’s War Dead – though not very hard – and will likely have settled for yet another shot of the dwindling parade of fragile veterans who appear faithfully every year to fill what’s known among journalists as “the November Hole.”
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