J’accuse

Sometimes the opening or closing credit sequence of a movie is the most imaginative, creative and effective part of a film. Although this is not the case with Green, the final credit sequence is both powerful and challenging. It is telling the story of habitat destruction, rampant consumerism, corporate greed and human compassion. It reveals the awful life experiences of a single individual traumatised by the loss of her land, her friends, her family and her home the director, Patrick Rouxel, presents his audience with a long list of those responsible for these crimes. Thus the film can be viewed as dramatic indictment of corporate capitalism in general and a whole host of famous and, not so famous, private companies, governments and, by implication, NGOs.

What the film indicts, by extension and by association (and contra Dan Brockington’s interpretation), are those organisations and individuals who promote the possibility and occlude the reality  of ‘sustainable palm oil production’. Given the consequences of this poorly regulated industry and its, at least short term, profitability there is only delusion, deception and dissembling in believing otherwise. Those NGOs, such as WWF-Int, who make alliances with the corporates are not so much changing the leopard’s spots but compromising their own integrity and reputation. This is the dominant message encoded in the relentless roll of the end credits and it is this message that forms the core of both Green’s critical public pedagogy and what should also be at the heart of all formal and informal education for sustainability, conservation and practical action.

The market economy, the relentless drive for profitability and economic growth, of capital accumulation and expansion, provides the largely invisible backdrop to what is business as usual and corporate friendly conservationism. The ruling value syntax may not be seen and may not be recognised but it can be felt. The emotional resonance of one animal’s life story, symbolic as it may be, is reinforced by the affective power of the roll call of those that must be held to account. And these are not just the companies who are providing their customers with what they want but their customers too who want the products peddled without bothering to care what the consequences are to other creatures, their homes, their land, their friends and family. Patrick Rouxel could have adopted the title of Abel Gance’s epic J’accuse. For that is what he does. He accuses. And it is for educators and others to do similar, and more.

NB      If you would like to view a short video of the 2010 Wildscreen Film Festival which was the subject of the team’s event ethnography please click on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cpnnu8kE3QY

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