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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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I finished Spike Lee’s When The Levees Broke.

Not so much a documentary, it was an attempt to blame as many people as possible. Blame the government. Blame the whites. Blame the Corps of Engineers. Blame the police. Blame FEMA. Blame The Department of Homeland Security. Blame Bush. Blame the National Guard. Blame blame blame. Make it a race issue. Make it an issue of slavery. Yes, they went there! Argh!

Of course, don’t blame people for living under water and not doing anything about it for half a century. When anybody even tried to do this, people instead struck out with “X should have taken care of this for us sometime in the last forty years!” Of course everybody impacted by the storm talks in hindsight right now, as if they knew they were in danger, and were complaining that they should be taken care of for decades. Bullshit. If these folks knew they were in impending danger, they were just assuming it would “never happen to me” and going about their lives, intentionally oblivious. Sorry.

Oh, and the conspiracy theories. Give me a break. The levees were blown up in order to save higher income properties. Right. Just like the thermite on 9/11. Are you people for real?

The movie does a good job of finding people that are very angry, and getting them to be angry on film, and lash out at the closest target. Rather than try to develop this into “what do we do next time?” and “how could we have done this better?” Spike makes four long acts of the blame game, with about the only look towards the future being “next time there’s a storm warning I’m actually going to listen to it.” There’s a lot of passion, a lot of poignancy, and a lot of good interviews and camera work, but there’s no focus, no goal, no effort to make things better. What a waste. Come on, Spike. Focus this effort. Make it mean something. Shape it into a statement more useful than “man, we got fucked!”

The breakdown of the levees in New Orleans was a national disaster. There was chaos at every level. Mistakes. Depravity. Name it, it happened. Yes, there are things that could have done better before the storm. During the storm. After the storm. Why not focus on that? Take time to be angry. There is a tremendous amount of anger and frustration for everybody involved, but just funneling that into blame and senses of entitlement is a waste of time.

Especially with four episodes of content, at least one should focus on prevention and how to improve the situation. Don’t worry, I’m sure there are plenty of opportunities to blame people there too, Spike, but maybe some people are doing something productive as well. Funnel all this crap into making the right decisions the second time around. Funnel that into being prepared. Funnel that into making more intelligent decisions in the future and preventing these mistakes you spent four hours whining about.

I’m not explaining it very clearly, but this movie left me incensed. I know people need a chance to grieve, to get angry, to call people names, to work through this tragedy. I can’t imagine how horrific it must be to have suffered through it, or to know loved ones involved in the disaster. I just don’t get the point of this documentary though. It doesn’t improve the situation. I get it Spike, I feel for these people, I’m sorry that they got fucked over. I’m sorry that they lost their homes, their families, their possessions. I’m sorry that bad decisions were made, by them, by the government, by everybody. But let’s move on. Dwelling on anger from past mistakes does nothing to fix them in the future. 4/10.