by Marta Steele
It is possible to eradicate hunger. How can we live and sleep comfortably knowing that millions of our sisters and brothers go to bed hungry?
-Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Having viewed Greg Palast’s set of short films Palast Investigates, I was, as usual, greatly impressed with his dedication to exposing those elements of our “civilization” we try to forget about. I find it miraculous, given these odious realities, that we survive each day and wake up to the next. Reality reeks, in so many ways, and few have the sang froid that Palast does to chase it down and publicize what we need to know.
In The Vultures, we meet a despicable “Goldfinger” who has no trouble robbing the poor–destitute Africans–to feed the rich-a few of them anyway, and mainly himself, through the usual mechanisms taught in Rove 101. Golden Guy intercepts millions in foreign funds targeted toward AIDS medication. The designer wardrobe the president of Zambia gets out of it is a nice boutique aside–shirts, suits, and high heels in quantities Imelda Marcos would envy. The good news is that somehow much of the material in all three films is innocuous enough to have attracted the mainstream media–Sixty Minutes, that is. Now if only they would listen to the rest. The world is crawling with “Rovism.”
The third segment, Steal Back Your Vote, originally a separate piece, documents that heartbreakingly blatant corruption of one of the first states in this country to adopt optical scanning voting machinery throughout, by way of former Governor Bill Richardson of the tarnished halo. Even with paper ballot backup, the discrimination that prevents fair registration, voting, vote counting, and the rest, is legend–a microcosm of events that transpired even in Election 2008, blocking at least six million votes. Here, then, is a piece of the Golden Medina that is more than a bit tarnished. But thank God New Mexico’s three electoral votes were not the decisive factor this time around.
And now for a brief voyage into not only one of the finest accomplishments in cinema but also in world history. Picture this, the ultimate collision between nature and culture, an indigenous man in war paint standing in front of the tony glass doors of a twenty-first-century predator’s office suite in one of those glitzy skyscrapers that grace the cityscape of the nearest metropolis. What on earth is he doing there? Not exactly a scene out of Emerald Forest. No one would want to go back with him these days because Chevron has so befouled his breathtaking habitat in the Amazon Jungle that when his children try to swim in what looks like ponds they emerge poisoned with gasoline and detritus that kills them and is stunting and disfiguring an entire generation and spreading that Western plague, cancer, throughout his tribal cosmos.
I am not calling the indigenous people angels per se, except that they have been sainted by these savage plunderers and have sued them successfully. They’ve been forced into the stench of the twenty-first century and reaped the closest to justice it is capable of. I call Rumble in the Jungle a cinematic masterpiece. I can’t get it out of my mind. You will be hugely impoverished by not spending the paltry sum it takes to purchase this experience. The brilliant environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appears in this middle segment. Don’t miss it, and the rest is also more than worth the apoplexy we all should feel in this Chevronesque slime pit sand–as I mentioned above–miraculously survive each day. I might add that the sleeping pill industry is burgeoning in the midst of this recession. Whether or not to invest in it is another story.