The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, a documentary about prison and its life in the American Landscape

Originally published at: The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, a documentary about prison and its life in the American Landscape | Boing Boing


Be careful with that- as long as you understand that what you are watching is still entertainment and not necessarily all factual.

Documentaries are still stories told with a voice and an agenda, whether intentional or otherwise. They are not pure or objective in any sense, and typically only show a single viewpoint (that of the director, writer, or whoever is the creative driver).

The waters get really muddy with data-driven or populist documentaries like Netflix and Michael Moore, respectively. In those cases you get into outright falsehoods pretty quickly.

I love them and watch every one I can, but always treat them as one data point on a topic. If a story gets you really riled up, that’s especially a warning sign that the story being told is probably biased or intentionally incomplete to make you feel a certain way. They pick heroes and villains, just like fiction, then edit and oversimplify accordingly.


To be fair, though, neither are books on history or cultural/social/political issues. There is always bias… the problem is when you get people proclaiming that they are being neutral and objective.

Far worse is the right wing bullshit machine that pumps out dreck like 2000 Mules or whatever the fuck that was… At least with Michael Moore, he’s being honest about his biases and preceptions. He tells story slant, it’s true, but he does so because he’s making a political argument about something.

True, but also true of other forms of political argumentation.

Well, sometimes you should be riled up and angry. The reality is that there is no position that is true neutral. But we should care about violence being done to real human beings. In this case, we have more than enough data points about the American prison system to see how entirely cruel, racist, and inhumane it is. I see no reason not be angry about how other people are being treated there, because it’s full of human rights violations aimed at dehumanizing people. Yes, some are people who committed crimes (sometimes awful crimes), but cruelty and revenge doesn’t come anywhere near fixing what caused them to do so. More upsetting is just how many people are in jail who did nothing wrong…


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