The One Percent

I watched the documentary “The One Percent” today. This is a really powerful documentary about the richest 1% of society in the United States. As a documentary filmmaker Jamie Johnson has greatly improved from his first effort, the documentary “Born Rich” but it seems apparent that he still has some room for improvement. I don’t mean to say that it’s no good (it is good) or that Michael Moore could have done better (he couldn’t, he makes propaganda films not documentaries) but that some of his interviews seemed unprepared.

Let’s take, for instance, his interview of Milton Friedman. Milton Friedman was talking in sound bites and cliches and left himself open for some good questions to really get at the heart of his assertions. Rather than go that route Jamie sounds like a little kid trying to convince a parent they deserve a third helping of dessert.

There are also the scenes when Jamie interviews his father and doesn’t attempt to explain to him what he wants out of the interview, or maybe he does and it isn’t shown. But when his father tries to get out of the interview by saying that he doesn’t have the answers and isn’t a genius (or something along those lines) he lets his father off the hook and lets him get frustrated rather than attempt to explain what he is trying to get out of the interview.

I thought that the best example was the part where they interview the Johnson family economist who comes across as a frenzied sycophant but is never pinned down for specificities when he says things like “you haven’t done your homework” and “you need to think about this”. Why not ask him what needs to be studied and what homework needs to be done and why?

Those quibbles aside I recommend this documentary.

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