29 May 2009

The Story of Stuff

It is a comparatively rare thing that I come across something deeply affective. All truly great creative work possesses a spark of inspiration and genius that makes it of seminal and enduring worth. But not even the best of human creativity necessarily moves me in so fundamental a way that my life would in fact be poorer for not having experienced it. And sometimes deeply affective food or art or music is not so much exceptional in genius as that my acquaintance with it was serendipitous. It fills a peculiar hole in my soul which I did not know I had.

I've had several such affective encounters recently, but one of the most startling was watching The Story of Stuff. I won't rehearse the story behind it, which was recently profiled in the Times. Basically, a passionate environmentalist made a popular web movie on a shoestring budget about the consequences of consumption which succeeded where so many have failed before. It is short, simple, upbeat, factual, and brutally effective. And massively popular. I expect few who watch it are entirely unmoved.

I was deeply moved. I've long been a passive environmentalist, but have generally preferred the denial of hard realities to the burden of responsibility. The Story of Stuff has knocked me off the fence. We all know that willful ignorance does not change unpleasant facts. So if you haven't seen it, watch it now.

(The original video on the Story of Stuff website is the best quality, but I've also embedded the YouTube version here.)

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