Combustible Celluloid
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With: Cornel West, Naomi Klein, Richard D. Wolff, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Yael Bridge
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 83
Date: 09/03/2021

The Big Scary 'S' Word (2021)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Socialist Smarty

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This timely documentary is a hopeful, easy-to-grasp primer on that old trigger word "Socialism," its thesis supported by an impressive roster of scholars, and with clear examples of why it can work.

The concept of Socialism is frequently misunderstood and used by American politicians and lawmakers as a scare word. The Big Scary 'S' Word realizes that, while everyone's heard the word, very few can explain exactly what it is, or why anyone should be afraid of it.

Filmmaker Yael Bridge's movie argues that capitalism, which is a "recent mutation," is not necessarily the definition of America, and that Socialism is "at heart, the ultimate expression of democracy." Groups that share and help each other — rather than celebrating obscene amounts of wealth — generally fare better.

Examples include the worker-owned Evergreen Cooperative Laundry and the state-owned Bank of North Dakota, both of which employ Socialism and run smoothly. It also follows Oklahoma schoolteacher Stephanie Price as she rises up and protests the low wages that keep her in poverty, and Lee J. Carter, who tried to make positive change within the Virginia House of Delegates.

These sections of the film are concrete and varied, and the various array of professors (from Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, NYU, etc.) and authors — and, best of all, Cornel West — lend a trustworthy, supportive air. Director Bridge's movie keeps things moving in easily digestible sections, keeps the tone optimistic, and gets out at 82 minutes. Hopefully The Big Scary 'S' Word will change a few minds and stop the scare tactics.

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