A rather uninspired documentary about the 2004 Republican National Convention as told by two college students working street level and covering the various protests mounted against the RNC. If anything this video proves that an interesting topic is only half of a good documentary. You also need to be able to present the subject matter in an interesting or enlightening fashion.
The World is Watchingg starts with a van load of Midwestern students in route to New York City to protest the convention. Arriving in New York the students and their efforts are quickly lost to a cast of eccentric characters each representing a different interest or protest march. Almost everyone in the film is concerned with the way they will be portrayed by the corporate media and they speak with the documentary crew as if somehow they will depict the protestors in a more truthful light. Sadly, just like the corporate media to which the film crew sees itself opposed, this documentary focuses on the most outlandish characters who’s arguments and costumes come across as expected and comical. Facts and figures, such as date, time, location, and size of each protest reduce the actions in the films to blotter material, with most of the issues being given little more lip service than one might expect on the evening news. In essence, the film is more of the same, just drawn out.
I shall assume that the filmmakers did not finish editing this picture until after Bush won his re-election. Most of the people heard through out this picture speak with an air of defeatism. On the ride home, the students complain about the treatment they received at the hands of the police. While I am sure their arguments are valid they are so poorly spoken, like sore losers, that one prays for them to stop whining. Additional stories of abuse and fears of being poorly represented by the media come across like sour grapes. Little is said about the positive things that may have come from these protests, most disturbing of all is the complete lack of introspection, something to balance out the picture. One commentator, a comedian/newsman for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show points out that a problem with such protests is that people in middle America see heavily costumed, divergent protestors and often do not see themselves amongst the crowd. Its a concern that lingered in the back of my mind and something the filmmakers failed to address. So much of politics is convincing your populace that you are just like them. Would thousands of similarly dressed protestors been more effective? Would that be too high a cost in terms of diversity or would it have showed a unified front against the RNC? I guess we’ll never know.
On a side note, this documentary was followed by a short film called Like Being Pursued By a Boulder. I was there as a guest of the filmmaker so I shall try not to let personal bias influence me, but his six minute collage of protest and police imagery did a far better job of presenting a faceless crowd unified against a highly organized police state.