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FDL Movie Night: Obey

Tonight’s movie, Obey (video), comes loaded with a powerful filmmaking punch: All images were found online and reconfigured to create a dystopian, 51 minute vision based on journalist Chris Hedges’ book Death of the Liberal Class.

Hedges’ book made the argument that a breach has occurred between the liberal class– consisting of academics, artists, educators, creatives, clergy, journalists, politicians, etc–and the radical social and political movements it once supported or sympathized with.

In Obey, directed and narrated by Cornwall-based Studiocanoe founder Temujin Doran, this breach is traced back to the rise of the military industrial state and propaganda machines during World War II. From there we travel though the 2008 election to a potential future that spells the total destruction of the planet and the end of life as we know it as society collapses and corporations mine the last bit of resources out of our environment.

Using a variety of filmmaking techniques Doran sets his found clips to pulsing electronic music by Clark, and narrates the film himself, creating an emotionally powerful vision of an entire planet going horribly wrong, driven to destruction by greed, apathy, and complacency. Quotes from Orwell, Pindar and Camus add to the mix, though Doran offers some solace from St. Augustine:

Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage.

Our one chance, argues Obey, is to rebel, to practice ongoing acts of civil disobedience based on moral, ethical values.

There is a powerful warning message in this film, along with political theory stressing the rise of inverted totalitarianism:

a system where corporations have corrupted and subverted democracy and where economics trumps politics..every natural resource and every living being is commodified and exploited to collapse and the citizenry are lulled and manipulated into surrendering their liberties and their participation in their government by excess consumerism and sensationalism.

With power consolidated in the hands of corporations and the media primarily controlled by six major corporations, we are gradually being strangled. The false hope offered by politicians is just that (Doran points out the Obama was voted not only President, but Marketer of the Year in 2008), and only by acting now–and that means doing more than recycling and voting–can we, the people of Planet Earth rescue ourselves and our world from the brink of extinction.

Doran advocates continual rebellion, not revolution–as revolution implies replacing out system of governance with another–using civil disobedience to question, test, and shift the status quo before things get any worse.

Obey, though grim gives hope and her beautiful daughters to anyone concerned about about our futures.

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.