I've already shared some of the many programs I watched during my December vacation, but one that I specifically wanted to post about eluded my memory until yesterday. The film in question is the documentary entitled Paper Clips, which is fairly charming and educational. As you can probably guess though, I have a few problems with it.
The basis of the documentary is a multi-year effort by a Southern U.S 8th grade class (I can only assume that at least some of the 8th graders were limited to a single year of the project) to collect 6 million paperclips to represent the 6 million Jews that died in Nazi concentration camps. The idea was to help the students (and clip donors) become more aware of one of the worlds most traumatic injustices, and that goal was accomplished. People from all around the world were touched by the efforts of these children, and that is really impressive. The goal of collecting 6 million clips was also accomplished -- in fact, they had to stop collecting at 11 million, deciding that they could throw in some of the non-Jew causalties to bump it up to 11 million.
The first problem I have with the film is in semantic details of the logic employed during their endeavors. Throughout the film, they kept repeating how each paper clip will represent an individual dead Jew, serving as a monument to honor their souls. That's a nice gesture, very commendable. So where did they decide to house these souls? In an actual Nazi rail car that was actually used to haul thousands to their deaths -- a trip that was unbelievably uncomfortable, being packed to the brim with over 150 cramped suffocating Jews at a time. Students kept saying, "I can't believe there were 150 people in here at one time... it's so small." Well, that's just great, now all 11 million of these souls get to spend eternity crammed in there. You think 150 was uncomfortable, imagine what you've just subjected them to. Now that's irony. Rather than just scattering them around on the floor in there, maybe they could have put some ovens in there to fill with clips as well?
The second problem I have is in the problems that had to have arisen as a result of the clip collection. Eleven million+ paperclips is a lot of them. What do you think happened to all the paper clip manufacturers that suddenly ramped up production due to the huge increase in demand? I bet they went and bought fancy Lexuses (Lexi?) in anticipation of the newly lucrative paper clip industry, only to have to sell them after the project's completion. This brings me to another problem: many of the clips came from people in the U.S government; senators, congressmen and presidents sent them clips. Who paid for those clips? Me, thats who. And you.
One thing that was neat about the documentary was that they had a special dinner during the filming where some actual living breathing holocaust survivors told stories of when they were in the camps. Sadly, the producers decided to include very little of this material, giving more time in the film to fat redneck children counting paper clips. It seems to me that the whole point of the project was to help people learn about the holocaust, what better way to help this project out than by, oh, I don't know, listening to stories from people who actually experienced it? Naw, let's just put in more redneck children counting paper clips.
In any case, Paper Clips is a pretty good little film, just try not to let your irony detectors beep too loudly while watching it.
The author lives in Vancouver, Washington, USA with his girlfriend and a menagerie of cats, rats, fish, birds, guinea pigs and robots.
Among other inanities, he strives to use investigative techniques to work young starlet breasts into every aspect of rational discourse -- focusing on the discourse, thus making it not perverted. Also, has recently begun a career as "Internet hairstylist."
He can be contacted via email and Jabber IM at 'firstname.lastname@example.org'. He likes to be contacted.
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