Unexamined Strife is not Worth Watching

22 Aug 2013: Detropia (DVD, 2011, Heidi Ewing/Rachel Grady)

I’ve definitely soured on “lefty” (i.e. feeding into the fake left of Democratic-party right-wing politics) documentaries like this and Manufactured Landscapes and The Kill Team and a sea of others that depict things that are painfully screwed up without including any serious, radical analysis that implicates or even really arouses anyone watching to meaningful reconsiderations of either the problems presented or the regular way of American or international life. Here we get many pretty glimpses of ugly ruin Detroit, a few decontextualized facts flashed onscreen (e.g. OK, the Big Three are the biggest corporate donors to the Detroit opera company – what about the other donors? Who are those philanthropists and where did their money come from?), and a few talking heads of dubious authority, as far as the film editing represents them, speaking of a true but underanalyzed crisis in Detroit and other American cities, before the most miserable of “hopeful” promises of revival when GM moves back (bless the corporation after all?) and when “young people” move in downtown (all of these white and probably middle-class offspring, contrasted with the blacks we’ve seen everywhere else). We can read these stories of decay in any number of daily newspapers and have these kinds of tiny kvetching snippets in any number of workplace chats; if we’re going to give our full attention to a feature-length film, we should be rewarded with a little bit more than this.

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