Mind Tonic
Post Web: Wind Tunnel

Playground in America

[I feel I should warn you that this clip is from a documentary film concerning the commercial sexual exploitation / abuse of children in the USA.

I even considered for a while whether I should post it here.

But that's also kind of the point.]

Last night I went to a film screening at the awesome Meet at the Apartment [thanks to the lovely Marc and Sara for organising].

I'd had a Monday. You know what they feel like. I was all stressed and that.

And then I watched this film and had perspective rudely thrust upon me.

The document Playground In America was conceived [to use an oddly loaded term in this context - see how uncomfortable this kind of thing makes us, makes me] when film maker Libby Spears was investigating the international sex trade.

On a fund raising hiatus back in the USA she interviewed some local experts in this field and discovered that child slavery and prostitution wasn't just a problem for other countries; that in fact the number one destination for sex tourism is in fact other parts of the USA.

It's an intense and powerful film, punctuated by animations from Japanese pop artist Yoshitomo Nara and music from Bjork and Radiohead.

It's not got a commercial release, so far, so Libby is going community to community, doing screening to whoever will watch, to raise awareness about the issue.

She set up the Nest Foundation as a non-profit that is using the film to spread awareness about the problem and some of the weird legal loopholes that mean underage prostitutes are being prosecuted and not helped.

Part of the problem is our inability to talk about this stuff, at least with out getting polemical or hysterical.

The whole thing makes us very uncomfortable but it's exactly that unwillingness to force such horror into the light that allows it to fester in the dark.

Libby said it well last night: awareness isn't nothing. It helps. It acts like a torch in the darkness. It lets those who have been exploited feel solidarity, which, as the film highlights, is crucial in the recovery process. It perhaps begins the groundswell of popular outrage that can drive political change. At the very least it mentions the unmentionable, establishes a discourse to replace the uncomfortable silence.

So I felt I had to blog about it. Maybe you will as well. Or find a way to see it. I hope you do. It's not very uplifting, but you should see it all the same.

It's a really complex issue. No doubt. Lots of different factors around law and enforcement and parenting and foster parenting and the social system and sex education and development.

But the morality of what is happening isn't. Not at all. It's just really horrible and sad. 

You can get more details about the film and relevant resources in your area on the website.