Tuesday, June 17, 2008

30 Days

The third season of Morgan Spurlock's program 30 Days on FX has been quite good so far.

What makes 30 Days so good is that it has no problem taking-on the most controversial subjects and giving everyone a look inside - both pro and con. My favorite episode to date has been in season 1 episode 5 "Off The Grid" where a man and woman spend 30 days at the Dancing Rabbit eco-village. Because of that show I have spent many hours considering what it would be like to live in a community that generates their own power, grows their own food, and handles their building and waste in a sustainable manner.

This week's episode ("Animal Rights") chronicled a man from North Carolina who is an avid hunting enthusiast who spent 30 days with the family of PETA's Los Angeles campaign coordinator. While I agree in principle to many of the issues PETA raises, I am not necessarily a PETA-supporter. PETA, like any other extremist group, can get out-of-hand and in people's face and justify their actions based on the point they're trying to make ("the ends justify the means"). This episode took-on the topic of animal cruelty -- and like each 30 Days episode it made you walk away thinking about the subject at hand.

Spurlock needs to really be given a hand because what he does best is make people think. Do I still eat at McDonald's after Super Size Me? Sure - once in a while I get a Big-Mac-attack, but since watching that program I do think more carefully about what I eat and what the fast food chains are serving. What 30 Days does is help people make incremental change through education and thought. It took a long time for things to get the way they are, and it will likely take a long time for them to improve. Rather than taking a strong position either way on many of the topics, like Penn & Teller's Bullshit or anything by Michael Moore, Spurlock presents the topic from both sides and lets you make up your own mind. It's a great idea.

Perhaps the most important concept of 30 Days is what happens when the 30 days are over. Everyone goes back to their normal lives with a better understanding of both sides of every issue. We've become such a polarized society that people see only in black and white but no middle ground. I absolutely hate a phrase I've been hearing more and more these days: "If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem." (also, "If you're not with us, then you're against us.") Neither of these are true, logically speaking. If I'm not part of the solution, then it may be that I don't think your solution really solves the problem, or I'm unable to participate in the solution. When the people on 30 Days go back to their "normal lives," they do change a little and have a better understanding of how the other side feels. Sometimes middle ground is the right place to be.

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