The Spirit Level Film: Bringing the message of equality to the screen

Katharine Round, Producer/Director of “The Spirit Level Film”, writes about how you can help bring the message about equality to the screen.

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Katharine Round, Producer/Director of The Spirit Level Film, writes about how you can help bring the message about equality to the screen

Most of us can see in our daily lives how our world is beset with social problems: we’re stressed, mistrustful, our communities have eroded, crime is a constant problem, and the lives of growing numbers are dominated by despair and depression.

John-Cleese-Ronnie-Barker-Ronnie-CorbettSome commentators have bemoaned our moral decline, blaming the laziness and criminality of those at the harsher end of the social scale.

The perception is that all it would take to solve these problems is for the poor to pull themselves together, that anyone can be rich as long as they work hard. But is this really true?

The Spirit Level, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, makes an arresting case to the contrary.

It presents 25 years of meticulous research to show how nearly all social ills – stress, poor educational performance, child wellbeing, violence, unwanted teenage pregnancies – are more common in those societies with a big gap between rich and poor.

What’s more, there are good reasons to believe these inequalities are at the root of our problems.

At its simplest, bigger income differences reduce social cohesion and make all the problems of class and social hierarchy worse – not just for the poor, but for all of us.

 


See also:

It’s time pay inequality became a priority 16 Feb 2011

Are Clegg and Osborne at odds on income inequality? 18 Aug 2010

Wilkinson clashes swords with his detractors in spirited debate on inequality 22 Jul 2010

Debunking the right’s attacks on The Spirit Level 19 Jul 2010

Thatcher to blame for ‘Broken society’ 20 Nov 2009


 

The idea swept the globe in 2009, 2010 and 2011, gaining support from leaders of all political persuasions: Ed Miliband talks about “Spirit Level Britain”; Obama claims inequality is the number one problem facing the US; and David Cameron states “deep poverty living side by side with great riches damages us all”.

Even the world’s billionaires at the annual Davos Conference spoke of the problems of inequality – although perhaps this is more down to a fear of reprisals than a pre-occupation with fairness. After all, last year saw a wave of protests against the super-rich, from Occupy to UK Uncut.

Yet still the incomes of the top earners have risen faster than everyone else – especially in the US, UK, Denmark, Finland, Australia and Mexico.

In the US the richest fifth of the population controls about 85% of the country’s wealth; in the UK the richest 1% have seen their share of income rocket from 7.1% in 1970 to 14.3% in 2005, whilst incomes of the poorest have stood still.

And in December 2011, the OECD reported the gap between rich and poor was at its highest level for 30 years. The ignorance about how unequal our societies have become – and the effects of this – is shocking. There is no better time than now to address it.

I’ve long been passionate about the role film can play in creating social change, and this text immediately struck me as one of the most important social messages facing the developed world. I felt it was something that transcended political rhetoric, that everybody should be aware of this research into the woes of our modern developed societies.

Over the last few years, films like The Age of Stupid and An Inconvenient Truth tackled climate change, influencing both public opinion and policy change. More recently, The End of the Line lifted the lid on the threat from over-fishing, and successfully changed both government and business policy.

The same team are now behind The Spirit Level – and our aim is no less ambitious. We want to make a film that is talked and written about, that gets into cinemas and on our televisions, so millions can see it. And, most importantly, we want to achieve real, tangible change in policies and attitudes.

This May, starting today, we are launching our campaign both to raise awareness and funds for the film. For six weeks only people will be able to visit our campaign page and support the film.

We want as many people as possible to help us to build a campaign for greater equality. We want people to know we are making this film – to show just how much public support there is for the issue, to help us attract the money we need to make it, and to put pressure on politicians to move beyond lip-service to real policy change.

Together we can do for the public understanding of the ways inequality damages all of us what An Inconvenient Truth did for the public understanding of climate change. A better life is possible for all of us.

Financially, we are asking supporters to pre-buy the download of the film. If just 2,500 people worldwide paid £12, we will achieve our target. And of course, it is possible to donate more.

But it really isn’t all about money. This is a movement and a campaign and, regardless of how much cash you have, we want you to participate and spread the word about our message. So on the 21st, regardless of whether you can donate, please share the campaign page – on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

Here’s five ways you can help:

1. Share our campaign page here: indiegogo.com/spiritlevelfilm;

2. TELL your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, students about this campaign and share the page with them;

3. SHARE he campaign page through Facebook: www.facebook.com/SpiritLevelDocumentary;

4. SHARE the campaign page through Twitter: @SpiritLevelDoc;

5. Sign up to our newsletter at www.thespiritleveldocumentary.com to find out more about the campaign as it progresses.

BLOG, TWEET, RETWEET – and please do email any thoughts you have for the film or campaign to us at hello@thespiritleveldocumentary.com.

 


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22 Responses to “The Spirit Level Film: Bringing the message of equality to the screen”

  1. Shamik Das

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  2. Social Justice First

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  4. Political Planet

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  5. Julian Buchanan

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  6. leftlinks

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  7. AltGovUK

    The Spirit Level Film: Bringing the message of equality to the screen: http://t.co/r5Sk1r5R by @katharineround @SpiritLevelDoc

  8. The Spirit Level Doc

    The Spirit Level Film: Bringing the message of equality to the screen: http://t.co/r5Sk1r5R by @katharineround @SpiritLevelDoc

  9. Sangeeta Enright

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  10. Caroline Walker

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  11. Eileen Cowen

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  12. clarebelz

    I will donate.

    You quoted David Cameron above however, and I truly hope that you do not feature anything that he says on the subject in your film.

    Though rich, he viewed it as fine to claim for his disabled son, and he was within his rights to do so of course, now nevertheless, he thinks it is acceptable that many severely disabled people are going to lose money, or are about to lose it, throwing them into abject poverty. The fear of this happening is causing much anxiety and distress, not knowing if you’ll have enough to live in dignity let alone a roof above your head.

    A friend of mine has just lost her DLA. She’s on morphine, heart medication, arthritis medication, medication for severe asthma. She can hardly walk from her front door to the car without being so badly out of breath and in pain that she can hardly speak. She now has £12 a week left for food, personal items everyone needs, cleaning products etc. The other day she said that she had enough left for the week to allow her to either buy a loaf of bread, or some butter, but not both. Her friends help out, and are paying to keep her car on the road or she would not be able to even visit the doctors, though she goes without food regularly, and is afraid to ask anyone for help. She can’t stop crying; I fear for her sanity.

    This is absolutely disgraceful and it’s happening all over the country: people are committing suicide every week due to it, and as a result we do not want to hear what Cameron has to say on the matter please.

    Money isn’t everything, you’re right. But if you’ve only got enough money to buy a loaf of bread a week in a western country that is relatively rich, then something is seriously wrong. Equality starts with people at least having enough to eat, to pay their utility bills, and to pay their rent. Where communities are unable to have such stability crime soars and family relationships break down. We all have a responsibility to one another, but the rich and powerful think that it doesn’t apply to them: THEY are the ones that you need to get the message through to, but as laudable as this documentary is, and I’m sorry to be so negative, but it will have no effect on the very people who have the ability to do something about it.

    Obama is on the clip you linked to talking about equality, yet his policies concerning the unemployed have meant that people lose any support after 2 years. Whole families, and in some instances, whole towns have been made homeless, their homes, street after street of them boarded up. Their children are removed because they now have to live in ‘tent cities’ where children are not allowed to live. And, recently, many of those very tent cities have been cleared. The authorities have confiscated all of their camping equipment and been told to ‘move on’: move on to where exactly? They wander the streets, and if they are caught sitting down to rest anywhere, they are told to ‘move on’ again or they are arrested. One pregnant woman was told to do that; the police hounded her every time they saw her, and eventually, heavily pregnant, she lost her baby. So please do not put any governmental leaders in your film, because they just don’t care about those who have nothing, the vulnerable, and those who are ill.

    The ability for people to pay their way will be impossible soon, even for people who earn minimum wage. I live in a cheap area to rent, but minimum wage is now not enough for a single person to afford a bedsit, utilities, food and transport to work. People should have a lot more left at the end of the week after working hard. And, 2 billion has just been removed from the economy due to tax credit cuts and the removal of ESA for any couple where one partner earns more than £7500 a year. That is going to have a devastating affect on local economies.

    A living wage, and adequate benefit provision, is the only way forward, but at a time when every government seems to think the opposite, so frozen wages equate to pay cuts and benefits are cut altogether, the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ will continue to widen, and society will pay the price for that.

  13. The Spirit Level Doc

    The Spirit Level Film: Bringing the message of equality to the screen: Katharine Round, Producer/Director of “Th… http://t.co/OarQ2uHe

  14. Katharine Round

    The Spirit Level Film: Bringing the message of equality to the screen: http://t.co/r5Sk1r5R by @katharineround @SpiritLevelDoc

  15. Lisa Chalkley

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  16. Newsnet Scotland

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  17. FBU Scotland

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  18. NeilCB1

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  19. Carolyn Anderson

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  20. Bfd Psych Drugs

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  21. Reducing inequality: If not now, then when? | Left Foot Forward

    […] See also: • The Spirit Level Film: Bringing the message of equality to the screen 21 May 2012 Nick Cohen, The Observer; author of You Can’t Read This Book said: “The […]

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