DVD Review: MoveOn: The Movie (2009)

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Sending an e-mail is a little like throwing your laundry into a dryer. You leave the delicates aside and get everything organized to ensure that you're compiling specific contents that are tough, essential and can withstand the heat but once you push that button, the final result is out of your hands.

Like the one sock that always escapes, sometimes the message simply vanishes or the lint sheds such a trail spiraling through the unknown reaches of cyberspace that it gets caught in a spam trap. In other cases, the impeccable product that went into the machine gets so warped as the neck of a sweater is stretched out wide enough to accommodate all of the various heads who have tacked onto the message with forwards so t
hat when the cycle is finally complete, it's barely recognizable. Needless to say, whenever we opt for the irresistible convenience of a button, we take a leap of faith that the ease of the action will all just work out in the end.

For Wes Boyd and Joan Blades, the simple act of sending a one sentence e-mail in 1998 not only worked out but made their original product even stronger, like an oversized concert t-shirt that becomes perfectly fitted after its first journey into the dryer.

Returning from lunch at a San Francisco Chinese restaurant in 1998, Boyd and Blades were so compelled by the sense of community they'd felt agreeing with other patrons that “congress must immediately censure President Clinton and move on to the pressing issues facing the nation,” that they typed this succinct sentence in e-mail form, took a leap of faith, and sent it off to their family and friends.

Yet instead of being ignored like a majority of e-mail forwards consisting of electronic chain letters, spam, or off-color jokes, this one sentence launched the type of camaraderie that typically occurs in online fantasy football leagues, topical chat rooms, or message board forums. While now there's a web community for everything, in 1998, there were no Star Trek like conventions to celebrate the like-mindedness of Democrats or relay the wishes of intelligent Americans that President Clinton's extramarital affairs should not be considered a matter of national security.

This single e-mailed sentence became a petition, blending new and old technology together as an e-mail or a phone call is much easier to ignore than a good old fashioned visit where people look each other in the eye and use shoe leather whether rallying, canvassing, or simply carrying hand-signed petitions throughout the government to address the public's desire for an acquittal so that the government could go back to governing once again.

Thus, MoveOn.org began with shared priorities and interests
as Boyd and Blades experienced the same thrill that fanboys do when they stumble on a Dr. Who fan fiction website that reminds them that they are not alone. On the contrary-- as that e-mail confirmed--politically aware citizens were now quite ready to be heard and to no longer be unaware of the existence of one another.

And using
the democratization of the world wide web to form their very own communities based on similar viewpoints-- news junkies, highly intellectual humanists and those who felt that they no longer had a voice in their government were given an outlet to come together to turn ideas into reality. So instead of science fiction, Americans uniting with MoveOn aspired to turn their own "fan fiction" of what they hoped America could actually become into the nonfiction of our land.

Yet, the e-mail plea to “Move On,” didn't end there, especially after what musician and MoveOn member Moby called “a bloodless coup that nobody complained about” when George W. Bush was selected to become the U.S. President over Al Gore in 2000's controversial election.

Likewise, as we entered into what Time Magazine has just called "The Worst Decade Ever," MoveOn gained even more momentum, following the attacks of 9/11, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina along with the fact that our country embarked on two wars while sinking into a global Great Depression.

Yet, while things fell apart around us, the call to try and put them back together on the most instinctual of levels continued to grow as Americans refused to let failure become more adhesive than their own glue-like will to set things right. So while more banks closed and roughly just as many politicians were caught with either their hand in the cookie jar or their pants down and the citizens paid the price in the blood of servicemen and women and job loss, MoveOn.org evolved into one of the most highly respected (and therefore controversial) official political action committees that could make or break an election.

An organized force of the type of resistant individuals we've always had in our history who dared to not surrender their seat to a white man or give in when companies tried to destroy their right for a union, MoveOn.org is fueled entirely by non-corporate, individual donations with a $5,000 limit and tireless volunteer effort. Likewise, it's fully driven by the passion of the people instead of the boards of directors, shady funding, inevitable conflicts of interest and owed favors system that traditionally predominates our national political scene.

With no central office and small staffs working entirely out of their homes as depicted via a web video chat in one sequence, MoveOn: The Movie is a thrilling documentary about the shifting of power back to people in a nonviolent American revolution to call attention to issues that aren't addressed in the traditional media. The goal of MoveOn is always to tell the stories that aren't being told and in doing so, they've held accountable officials who say one thing and do another, and have stood up for their fellow citizens after their possessions and bill of rights drifted away when the levees broke in 2005.

In filmmaker Alex Jordanov's six year cinematic analysis of the organization, we're given an in-depth portrait of MoveOn from the points-of-view of those who belong to the over five million member organization who ensure that MoveOn is always on-task in keeping the government on-task.

Admittedly the film can be guilty of treating its subject with kid gloves, despite a few fascinating scenes regarding the congressional condemnation of their “General Betray-Us” ad. Still overall it's a love letter to the spirit of MoveOn.org in its reminder that-- like any party or system-- when that many passionate people are involved, there are going to be conflicts in how to most effectively convey information to the people.

Yet, despite the controversy which has actually made them far more notable, it's a worthwhile PAC to study regardless of your party affiliation because of their tremendous success rate, respect from presidential candidates,
Vice Presidents, and Presidents (including Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama) and their admirable ability to fulfill their members' wishes to get involved by helping link families with beds to Katrina victims or give people the resources to register voters etc.

A terrific work, MoveOn: The Movie is ideal for political junkies and those who are curious just how the organization which delivered John Cusack's intelligent McCain vs. Bush policy quiz ad also helped organize a musical “change the vote” extravaganza wherein Bruce Springsteen took his first public and political stance in his entire career.

Yet much like other features from Brave New Films and The Disinformation Company such as Michael Moore's Slacker Uprising and Robert Greenwald's Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, and Rethink Afghanistan, it's a must-see for global citizens. Similarly, it's one that will no doubt inspire those on both sides of the aisle and citizens without any aisles to realize that any positive action from helping someone register to vote or simply typing up an e-mail and pressing send can be a revolutionary act, even if we still can't find that other sock that disappeared from our dryer.

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FTC Disclosure: This is not a paid review or an advertisement. Although I'm a fan of the organization, I'm not a registered member (yet) and have no conflicts in remaining an objective critic. Per standard practice for members of the film reviewing press, I received a screener of MoveOn which would enable me to then MoveOn and write about MoveOn: The Movie without needing to move back through obstacles of access.