We Speak For Earth

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Documentary Review: The One Percent

So, I saw this timely documentary on Netflix last night.

It’s about Jamie Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson empire, and his personal struggle reconciling the growing wealth gap. He basically interviews his family (or tries to), other wealthy heirs (including one of Warren Buffett’s grand daughters, whom Buffet basically disowned for participating in the film!), a few wealthy folk (e.g. Steve Forbes) and some legal and economic notables (like Milton Friedman).

Aesthetically, the film is not particularly well done, though not too bad either. I think Johnson did a fair job voicing some of the criticisms aimed at him, though the movie is obviously biased. And while it didn’t particularly shed light on why precisely the wealth gap is growing or how to solve it, it did well illustrate the attitude of many in the 1% toward the very issue, which I guess was the point of the film. So while I don’t think it particularly persuaded me on any issue, it was certainly thought provoking.

Also, I was a bit surprised to realize this film was made 5 years ago since the points it raises are so pertinent to the Occupy movement etc. And I loved when he was a called a “trustafarian”. Obviously anyone concerned with the growing inequality deserves a derogatory term. Also, I loved when Johnson suggested “slightly more aggressive taxes on the wealthy” only to have Friedman shoot it down as “socialism” - and then end the interview. Lastly, his father was an exceptionally interesting character. The film truly conveyed a sense of his inner struggle, having obviously been troubled by the gap himself (having made a similar film when he was younger!!!) but fearing (further) backlash for expressing or exploring his feelings on it. Fascinating and almost painful to watch someone seem to struggle with those feelings and cognitive dissonance.

All in all, a pretty decent film and definitely worth watching for anyone interested in the growing income gap or Occupy stuff.  - Ari

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    i’m about to watch this.
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