Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Great Plastic Migration

This nature documentary about the trans-oceanic migrations of plastic bags is making the rounds today. The Californian nonprofit Heal the Bay is promoting the video as a means to rally support Assembly Bill 1998, which proposes to ban single-use plastic bags at California shops.

Note the appearance of the Los Angeles River around 2:20.

Though tongue-in-cheek, I would love to see more nature documentaries like this one. How about an episode about the larval stages of plastic bags, from the oil refinery to the grocery store?

Anyway, it's one thing to zoomorphize plastic bags. Why not anthropomorphize them as well - let them carry a human personality as they drift through the wind, freed from their more material cargo? This personality would necessarily need to have mixed feelings about its immortality - simultaneously self-important and lonely. And it would also have to feel a deep bitterness about its lack of agency, and resentment for the external natural forces that dictate its fate.

If you're saying to yourself, "Hey, that sounds a bit like Werner Herzog," you're in luck! He's precisely the man who narrates the thoughts of a lonely plastic bag in this video by director Ramin Bahrani:

After a tedious journey, Herzog the bag ends up in the Pacific Ocean as well, not particularly fulfilled by its migration, and somewhat bitter at its own failure to die.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It reminds me of the old Canadian children's film "Paddle to the Sea" (which they must have been aware of)... The Plastics Council mentions "American Beauty" as one of the plastic bag's finest moments, but I think this lowly bag steals the show.