America Betrayed (2008)
I seem to be watching movies in sets of two these days, the latest being a couple of America Sucks documentaries that produced vastly different responses from me. Last week I threw in I.O.U.S.A., a sort of doomsday debt version of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Despite its good intentions, I.O.U.S.A. got me thinking about how the the popular documentary format has morphed into a standard rhetorical form, with repetitive tropes, gestures and pretty graphics. Shockingly, the endless charts and projections of unfunded debt obligations just didn't leap off the screen as I had hoped they would and I was left hoping that this inevitable financial sinkhole would at least suck the funding out of long winded and dull documentaries. There's a reason accountants don't do movies.
Against my better judgment, I slipped another America Blows Big Ones documentary, America Betrayed in the old Oppo tonight expecting more of the same. I couldn't have been more wrong. It would seem that actually being under water is far more compelling than being so metaphorically (as in "in debt"). America Betrayed centres on the systemic failure of the U.S. Federal Government, it's agencies and corporate bum boys in preparing for and responding to the New Orleans Katrina disaster. This film (by news personality Leslie Carde), is a terrific expose about the level of corruption that riddles the U.S. - and it's massive – and how it played out both before and after Katrina. It raises countless charges against the Bush regime and serves as a real eye-opener for political neophytes on just how fundamentally fucked America has become.
This film places the spotlight front and center on the specific ways in which the U.S. government contributes to, and profits from disasters both here and abroad. From the way it shields itself from blame when all roads point to their culpability, to the friends in high places who continue to benefit from the very disasters that leave the population reeling. From 9/11 to the war in Iraq, to the worst disaster in U.S. history, the levee failures in Hurricane Katrina, America Betrayed follows the money, and the path leads straight back to the hallowed halls of Congress... the profits straight into the pockets of those with ties to the Executive Branch. America Betrayed is the story of waste, fraud, and abuse at the very highest echelons of the U.S. federal government.
So there you have it; two docs with similar styles and in a way about similar issues with two completely different results.