Posted July 15, 2011 by David Watson in Films
 
 

Just Do It


The world of environmental direct action has remained a secretive one, until now. Just Do It’s opening title solemnly reads.

The world of
environmental direct action has remained a secretive one, until now.
Just
Do It’s opening title solemnly
reads.

For one eventful year,
the makers of this film were allowed to follow a community of UK activists.

This is what happened.

Or the spiffing lark we
had on our endless gap year!

If you’ve ever watched the
news and seen footage of anti-capitalist protests or the inflammatory coverage
in the newspapers and worried that society is breaking down, worry not. Emily James’ documentary Just Do It burrows deep inside the secretive world of the
eco-activist and reveals what you probably already suspected: they’re not the
violent anarchists thugs portrayed by the media, they’re mostly a coalition of
annoyingly earnest, non-violent, upper middle-class white kids and annoyingly
earnest middle-aged, middle-class white hippies who talk a lot about revolution
and overthrowing capitalism but whose actual civil disobedience mainly consists
of drinking a lot of tea, cycling without a helmet and indulging in mildly
illegal acts of trespass and vandalism.

Beginning with the London
G20 protests on April Fools Day 2009, which saw the death of Ian Tomlinson, and
following a year in the life of the environmental direct action group Climate
Camp, Emily James’ Just Do It is
a smug, dumbed-down, partisan documentary that’s content to preach to the
converted, it’s likely potential audience consisting mostly of the Climate
Campers themselves.

Thrill as they smash the worldwide
capitalist system by cycling through the streets of London and Copenhagen! Gasp as they bring global finance to
its knees by invading the trading floor of RBS, sitting down and super-gluing
themselves to each other! Watch in
amazement as our heroes wander the woods trying to gain entry to a coal power
station! Scratch your head in
puzzlement as a room full of nice young activists vote on which of them are
‘arrestible!’

With frustratingly
simplistic and annoyingly smug narration by narrator and activist James
Leadbitter, this cosy portrait of ‘professional domestic extremists’ feels more
like a home movie than a feature documentary. Other than exposing the activists not as dangerous
subversives but as a thoroughly nice, if slightly naïve, bunch of good eggs
committed to trying to save the planet by any means necessary (except violent
ones), Just Do It doesn’t impart
much in the way of actual knowledge of the issues and feels like a wasted
opportunity. There’s nothing of
the depth here of Al Gore’s award-winning PowerPoint presentation An
Inconvenient Truth
. More interested in glorifying it’s cast
of, frankly, pretty uninteresting, unengaging poshos, Just Do It skates over Tomlinson’s death and totally fails to
mention the scandalous infiltration of agent provocateurs by the
authorities. It does however
feature some shocking footage of the brutal tactics used by the police and
exposes just how manipulative and sensationalist our news media is.

While the film bills the
Climate Campers as ‘modern-day outlaws’ you can’t help but feel that these
rebels without applause would have a greater impact on climate change if they
just stayed home and turned the ruddy lights off.

*This statement was just
cynical old me being facetious.


David Watson

 
David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com