Naomi Klein is a well known anti-globalisation and anti-corporate activist. Her book, No Logo, became the bible of the anti-advertising movement. She has also reported from Iraq. She is a loud and often intelligent critic of the United States and of corporate power. Whatever one thinks of Klein's arguments though, her latest venture should interest. It provides a new vision of the next front on the air war over the internet: the use of film and video to buttress words and pictures. The problem with the internet political movement and generally with campaigning politics itself has been its lack of immediacy- very few people will get motivated by a Glenn Greenwald piece in Salon. He does a wonderful job but its only a specific type of person who is willing and patient enough to follow the argument there.
Indeed people in the blogging world have begun to recognise this. Chris Bowers of MyDD for example argued recently that blogs would eventually reach a peak readership. He believes that that has already happened in the states. The same kind of things could be said of political books. For all of Noam Chomsky's writings he has been less influential in selling the anti-Iraq war point of view than Michael Moore simply because of the accessibility of Moore's media. Traditional political books are in this context limiting the capacity of people to get their message out and actually change the world.
That is happening at a time when increasingly the entertainment world is attempting yet again to be serious. Film makers and film stars, musicians and celebrities want to look as though they are doing something. The Culture wars in the United States have seemed to threaten cultural output itself. As the National Review and Laura Ingraham attack cultural consumption, they bring the culture wars right up to the door of Hollywood and Britney Spears can become an emblem of dissent. Its no surprise that as homosexuality for instance has risen up the agenda in the States, film makers have become increasingly interested in doing things to fortify the left. This coincides with the rise of documentary film making. Film makers like Errol Morris began a trend of good documentary making, that Michael Moore and others have jumped on. Whether through non-political films like Catching the Friedmans or through political films like Farhenheit 911 it seems to the moguls that control Hollywood that politics and issues sell tickets and DVDs. Added to that we have the rise of third world film makers, the rise of Mexican film in particular, which has stimulated a more political film making on all sides. All these trends coming together have tended to make some films more political (though its worth not overstating the point- Mr Bean's Holiday is probably an apolitical film).
Hence it shouldn't come as a surprise to see the new media on the net, seeking for more audience and the old media of the film seeking more issues based material to unite. Its already happened of course. Brian De Palma's latest project sees him attempt to use digital material to make his story of abuse during Iraq more immediate. De Palma was partly motivated by what he saw on the web and his consumption of political reporting- and that motivation has fed into a film which evangelises on behalf of those netroots activists. The loop is therefore complete and everyone gains.
Naomi Klein is no netroots activist. But she is a respected and young political pundit. In some of her attitudes and in her comparative youth she ressembles those at the heart of the internet revolution. Though her medium may be print, she too faces the same problem. Klein though has become fashionable and part of her status as a fashion icon (an ironical one at that) is that she can go and ask Hollywood directors for endorsements. Klein gains chic from the endorsement, they gain gravitas. Furthermore Klein comes of a generation- like your correspondent- who learns as much from the visual media of a film as from the printed media of a book.
Its no surprise therefore that Klein sent her novel to one of the more political directors in Hollywood, Alfonso Cuarón. Cuarón directed "Children of Men", a dystopian look at the future. She expected an endorsement but Cuaron saw more potential. He decided to make a film- the result is below- which would encapsulate Klein's points in visual form. In this way both Cuaron and Klein benefit. Cuaron gets to put a political point he agrees with across and Klein gets to make a multimedia assault on her targets. The synchronicity is definitely there and for both of them it makes sense.
This won't be the last such collaboration either.
If your computer has Adobe/Macromedia Flash installed, you can watch the trailer for the film below in streaming Flash video format below, courtesy of YouTube. Or you can right-click and save the trailer to your harddrive in the QuickTime or Windows Media Video format, in the resolution of your choice by using these direct links below (be aware though that these files range between 40 and 164 MB in size!):