Intersections of Art and Science

Will Shoppers Ever Care About the Destruction of the Planet? – the New York Times

Screenshot from Patagonia Film's mockumentary "The Shitthropocene" via Youtube.
Screenshot from Patagonia Film's mockumentary "The Shitthropocene" via Youtube.

At SXSW, a documentary traces the arc of plastics in our lives, and highlights evolving research of the potential harm of its presence in our bodies.

It’s been more than five decades since Dustin Hoffman’s character in “The Graduate” was offered a kernel of wisdom about the path to prosperity.

“Plastics,” he’s told by Mr. McGuire, the starched corporate executive who offers the advice. “There’s a great future in plastics.”

Plastics have indeed been a game changer for humanity, and the enormous range of cheap, durable plastic goods, from food containers and PVC pipes to polyester clothing and single-use medical products, have inarguably improved life.

The problem, as nearly everyone knows, is that plastics are forever and very little of it has been recycled. The U.N. has estimated that most of the 400 million metric tons churned out annually — a doubling of production since 2000 — will remain on Earth in some form as they are broken down into teeny specks by sunlight, wind and the sea…

“We know microplastics are everywhere, we know they are harmful to marine life and to our fisheries, but the research side of how they impact humans is still catching up,” said Imari Walker-Franklin, an environmental engineer and chemistry researcher at RTI International who studies microplastics.

“Plastic People,” a new documentary directed by Ben Addelman and Ziya Tong, surveys the emerging science on microplastics and arrives at a troubling conclusion: The potential health risks associated with plastic pollution are becoming hard to ignore.

The film, which debuts Saturday at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, follows the work of microplastic researchers in a half-dozen countries, including a pair of Turkish scientists who said they recently discovered microplastics inside the human brain. Some of the particles were found deep inside the tissue of cancerous brain tumors…

Patagonia (04-29-2024)

The Shitthropocene | Full Film | Welcome to the Age of Cheap Crap

Warning: Contains explicit language (if you hadn’t guessed that from the title)

The Shitthropocene is a mock anthropological view of humanity’s consumption habits, turning a satirical (yet brutally honest) eye on how everything is turning to shit and why the impulse towards more might destroy us all.

You might have noticed that a lot of things seem to suck right now. This film isn’t about all the things that suck—that would be a really long film. But it is about consumption, which is both a cause and a symptom of the suckiness. For a bunch of reasons, pretty much everyone is making and buying too much stuff, which we are evolutionarily programmed to want. What was once an advantage (more! = better!) is now contributing to the destruction of the planet.

The Shitthropocene is a journey from the cellular origins of our lack of impulse control to the ways our central nervous systems have been hacked in the name of capital. It’s also about how we might begin to save us from ourselves. Plus there are dancing cavemen…



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