Conciousness raising through free DVDs

2007-01-10

in Films and movies, Politics, Science, The environment

There is a website that will supposedly send you a free DVD copy of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Some statistics are up, on how many tickets and discs they have given away. I have placed a request, and I will let you know if it actually works. They seem to be overwhelmed with thousands of requests at the moment, so that seems pretty unlikely.

If they do send me one, I will make sure to screen it publicly at least once. The case Gore makes is rigorous and compelling; this is also an interesting demonstration of how science, politics, and advocacy run together. I wrote about the film earlier.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 10, 2007 at 12:38 am

Alternative: watch the illicit internet version: Part I, Part II

From this thread

Milan April 13, 2007 at 12:15 pm

Hello Milan,

I received your DVD request on Jan. 9th, and wanted to thank you for visiting ShareTheTruth, as well as expressing interest in the film!

Demand has been overwhelming: to date, we’ve received over 57,000 orders for free DVDs. I have been scrambling to keep up, and certainly did not intend for there to be such a delay in response.

There’s no such thing as bad publicity, but one drawback, of being widely linked to, is that visitors frequently miss the chance to understand what the ShareTheTruth effort is all about!

Foremost, ShareTheTruth is about introducing An Inconvenient Truth to people who might not otherwise find out how–and, just how much–all this human activity is affecting our planet. Now that the movie has won two Academy Awards (Best Documentary, Best Song), it’s clear that public consciousness of climate change, and its myriad side effects, is increasing.

But consider that 13% of Americans have never heard of “global warming” (1), and far more don’t think we’re in a position to do anything useful about it. This in a world where, actively suppressing scientific data no longer, both ExxonMobil and President Bush have turned 180 degrees, to publicly acknowledge the immense gravity of the climate crisis! (2) (Being outside the U.S., you might already know that Americans are on the whole the worst offenders, collectively contributing 25% of the world’s greenhouse emissions while least aware of the problems we cause.)

As chronicled on the blog (3) when the sudden surge in site traffic began, the ShareTheTruth effort has from the outset managed itself quite nicely. Donations received from generous folks inspired by the movie had been enough to cover the cost of sending others to the theaters.

Once, however, the “free AIT DVD” offer began springing up on sites such as fatwallet.com, slickdeals.net, weeklyfreebie.com, and the like, a severe imbalance between requests and donations emerged.

This issue is fundamentally not a money problem–it is, in my view, an awareness problem.

Most visitors from deals sites are, due to the context of their particular online journeys at the given time, looking for free stuff. Here is a very small sample of commentary:

“Signed up. 1 less movie in my Netflix queue…” (4)
“Awesome! I can’t wait to ebay my free copy.” (5)
“If it does come, I’m just going to turn around and sell it on Half.com or something.” (6)

Words such as these illustrate some potential misunderstandings.

First, our DVDs aren’t funded by the movie studio, or Al Gore, or any corporation with dollars to spare; on the contrary, each dollar is asked for, from each donor having earned it herself, to the time, resources, and tremendous good will fueling its travel to ShareTheTruth’s PayPal donation pool (of which PayPal takes a cut, and I reimburse using my personal savings).

Second, the majority of deals sites linking to ShareTheTruth link directly to the “free DVD” page, thus bypassing the home page (7) and essentially limiting the opportunity for potential donors to contribute.

Third, as a result of our limited resources, I prefer to gift DVDs to those without the means to see the movie, or those too reluctant to rent it for themselves but still receptive to watching it. While I would be unquestionably grateful to be in a situation where I could offer copies to everyone, including Netflix subscribers seeking to trim their queues, at this moment it is not possible.

So, as a ShareTheTruth participant you’ve got several options, all equally valid:

A) Rent or borrow the film. When you return it, it’ll be available to others for viewing. If you hope to rent An Inconvenient Truth and cannot afford it, just write me back!
B) Buy the movie if you can afford it (Amazon.co.uk is selling the DVD for 5.97 (7)). Ultimately, the wonderful thing about owning a copy is that you can pass it along. And in fact, ShareTheTruth has copies of the movie floating around the world, and we’re constantly finding out where (close by if possible) current DVD holders should send their copies next!
C) If you have bought the movie, please consider donating your copy to the ShareTheTruth effort: we can help that DVD reach as many people as possible, in your community and beyond!
D) It’s perfectly fine if you still want a free DVD. The whole goal of this letter is to explain the ShareTheTruth cause, not to exclude or deny anyone whatsoever.

On April 10th, the movie studio contacted us expressing interest in online distribution of the movie. We are hoping it can be achieved at a low enough cost to ShareTheTruth, so that we can stream it to you online for free. You can let me know if that’s an option you’d prefer.

In short, I hope to hear your thoughts. I am open to suggestions, criticisms, and aspire to be as flexible and generous and possible so please, don’t hesitate to inform.

Warm Regards,

Eric Pan

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