I was just informed about Pangea Day, which is an effort to bring together films from around the world in order to “strengthen tolerance and compassion…to build a better future.” The idea comes from TED’s 2006 winner, Jehane Noujaim, who produced the call-for-participation video. The video itself is rather moving and the effort is attractive unique. The real power I find in this idea is its simplicity. As much as I read about global problems and work to create unique solutions I can’t help to be drawn to the simple ideas. Often we try to create complex solutions to complex problem but often that masks the underlying source. Is it possible that tolerance and compassion for other cultures can be achieved through films? Probably not. But the goal of this competition is to showcase videos that might serve as catalysts for future action. I will be intrigued not just to see what is produced by May 10, 2008 (the day of the worldwide broadcast of video submissions).
However, after watching Jehane Noujaim’s speech on Pangea Day’s homepage, I can’t help but feel like this effort is a bit misguided. From what I understand, the underlying motivation for showcasing videos from across the world is to bring a voice to the people. I will not argue that governments and media have long-quited the voice of the masses but I don’t know why there is this assumption that videos submitted by people will be any less-biased or agenda-driven. This viewpoint assumes that there is this global moral standard and that pervades the common person. Unfortunately, from a lot of these videos many people will be disgusted and offended by what they see. How will this facilitate tolerance? Simply opening the floodgates won’t ensure that viewers will react well. Additionally, this perspective also assumes that videos will be more or less unbiased and all-encompassing. The media and government aren’t the only ones who will purport to know the truth. In fact, my guess is that the Pangea Day committee themselves will probably have to censor some of the videos.
But, all in all, I find this to be a valuable endeavor. It was put together well and, if it gets enough press, should promise to bring a lot of interesting videos to the global fore. What happens as a result still remains to be seen…