Story of Stuff called "anti-capitalist"
In internet time, Annie Leonard’s The Story Of Stuff is relatively old. But the 2007 web video, produced by Free Range Studios and funded by the Tides Foundation and Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption (among others) has attained cult status in American classrooms. According to the New York Times, teachers around the country use the video to supplement environmental education textbooks that often lack information on recent scientific discoveries.
Creative teaching, right? Not in Missoula County, Montana, where the school board responded to a parent’s complaint about the video’s “anti-capitalist” message with a decision that use of The Story of Stuff “violated its standards on bias.”
OK… Leonard does use the phrase “means of production” in the video. But, interestingly enough, the video has inspired discussion rather than stifling it: students from California’s Woodside Priory college prep school made a video asking for practical steps they could take to address issues raised in The Story of Stuff, and yet another group of high school students, from Mendocino High’s School of Natural Resources, responded with another video supplying ideas.
In fairness, Missoula County school board officials claim they have not banned the video; they just want alternative views presented along with it. Looks like high school kids with video cameras have already figured out how to make that work… and created their own little ecosystem of communication around this challenging short film.
Is The Story of Stuff a detailed presentation of complex concepts surrounding unsustainable production and consumption, or an anti-corporate screed? Is it appropriate for secondary students? Let us know in the comments…