Better Left Unsaid
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…there’s a lot to take in here but even if you only take away a few key points, it’s well worth your time.
You have to admire the ambition of any documentary filmmaker, particularly when the subject is considered untouchable by most. Here, director/narrator Curt Jaimungal and producer Desh Amila take the bull by the horns, delving into the world of the extreme left.
Sure, everyone knows, fears and commonly dislikes the extreme right, whether it’s your garden variety racist redneck or a former leader of the free world, but the overarching theme here is that the extreme left is sometimes just as bad.
The film starts by looking back at the 2010s, when many believed “Everything the ‘left’ stood for was everything that made the West the West”. Then somewhere around 2013-14, as students started to protest and large organisations strived for diversity, topics such as abortion, capital punishment, racism and sexism became a minefield for debate.
The problem with tackling such a broad subject, including everything listed above, is that there’s so much to cover within the short 90-minute run-time and some of the more interesting points don’t get the time they deserve. However, with Jaimungal himself presenting to the camera directly, they’re able to skip through multiple topics in quick succession. It almost feels more like a TED Talk than a documentary, but thankfully due to his knowledge, personal experiences and charisma, Jaimungal manages to hold your attention throughout.
They utilise everything from video and audio interviews to historical footage and even visual graphs to explain exactly what they’re talking about – however, even with all these aids it’s hard to keep up at times, especially given the high-level political and psychological lingo.
Unsurprisingly, the most interesting points come from experts in their fields, including interviews with cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, philosopher Noam Chomsky, Canadian writer and professor, Janice Fiamengo, and many more.
The narrative continues through 2017-20, to a time when not making a political statement can be criticised just as much as broadcasting an unpopular one, and therefore becoming a target of the extreme left as well – hence why everyone from Taylor Swift to Spider-Man have been put under the spotlight for saying something or not enough.
One of the biggest eye-openers is when they analyse what happens when the extreme left is challenged by the very oppressed people they are supposedly speaking in the name of – well, it turns out that they turn on these people too.
People with extreme left views are much like those with extreme religious views, in that if you successfully challenge their beliefs with reason and facts, they have only two choices: 1) To disregard their beliefs, or 2) To defy reason. Many extremists opt for the latter, and as a result have completely disregarded what is reasonable and factual, all for the sake of maintaining their beliefs. The left movement is now snowballing to a point where social science isn’t even about science anymore, and that’s the scariest part. Former President Barrack Obama sums it up best with a comment in the film, stating that “With young people, more so with the help of social media, they think the only way of making change is to be as judgemental as possible about something else”.
Much like an effective college essay, Jaimungal also explores the extreme right; to show contrast but also reveal many similarities with the extreme left. Strangely, the narrator switches at this point, which is slightly off-putting, as they analyse historical right-wing eras; from Lenin’s Russia to Mao’s China, as well as disturbing periods in Cambodia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and famously Nazi Germany.
The film ends with the observation that while the extreme left and right warriors of the world are continually fighting, and the rest of us are watching on, we’re completely ignoring other major issues in the world; like nuclear war and nanotechnology. Governments and large corporations are seemingly encouraging the behaviour so they can carry on with what they’re doing – and by the time we clue on, it’ll be too late.
All in all, there’s a lot to take in here but even if you only take away a few key points, it’s well worth your time. Acknowledging and dealing with subjects like race, gender and sexuality is important, and sometimes knowing what the extreme stances are, it can help us find reason and understanding somewhere in the middle.
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