(*homocinematically inclined)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Reverend's Reviews: Bag Hag

Most of us — gay and straight — would agree that bags under one's eyes are not a good thing. Turns out, though, that we should be much more worried about the damage being done to our environment and, subsequently, to ourselves by plastic grocery bags. This isn't news to the "green" among us but a new documentary, Bag It, is trying to reach those who haven't yet heard the message. It is currently airing on most local PBS stations and via nationwide theatrical screenings in honor of Earth Day (visit the film's official website for information about screenings in your area).

Award-winning director Suzan Beraza focuses on Jeb Berrier, a Colorado-based expectant father and "everyman" citizen concerned about the damage done by the proliferation of non-biodegradable plastic products since the 1950's. The statistics they report are startling. For example, Americans use 1 million plastic bags per minute, and 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. Most of these end up not recycled but as trash dumped in the sea, where they are frequently mistaken by sea life as edible jellyfish. There is a growing epidemic of turtles, sharks and other marine animals necessary to the global food chain dying as the result of eating a diet primarily made up of plastic. The colony of albatross birds who call the Pacific's Midway Atoll home are also dying of plastic consumption.

In light of such dire findings, the United Nations called for a global examination of plastic shopping bags and ultimately condemned their use. US grocer Whole Foods Markets eliminated them in 2008, and Ireland imposed a 22-cent fee on each bag. As a result of the latter, consumption of plastic bags on the Emerald Island has dropped 90%. While most items made of plastic are recyclable, too many people still toss them in the trash instead of the recycle bin.

At a brisk, informative 79 minutes, Bag It easily holds one's attention. Berrier isn't the most attractive spokesperson and his anti-plastic enthusiasm can be grating, but he is balanced by the film's incorporation of expert interviews and commentary by other professionals. Many take what might be considered an extreme view of buying less in general and overcoming our consumerist, disposable mentality. Better to start with small steps, I think, and first start recycling our plastic bags and other items or purchasing the re-usable bags now sold by many stores.

Also of note: one study cited in the film found that exposure to a common component in plastic, Bisphenol A (also known as BPA), can result in "gender neutrality" in developing children. Could this also potentially result in homosexuality? Bag It doesn't go that far, but I find it interesting to consider. While I don't place the blame on anything or anyone for "making" me gay, what if my mother's or grandparents' plastic goods were at least partly at fault? No more Tupperware parties for me!

Reverend's Rating: B

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Blade California.

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