At a time when democracies worldwide are beginning to show their cracks, What is Democracy? is a pertinent film for this moment in our society.
Revolving around Plato’s philosophical musings on democracy, it is amazing how relevant they are to today’s political climate. This is especially true when reflecting on the mass economic divide impact on the pitfalls of democracy.
Through interviews with a variety of experts and minorities, director Astra Taylor main focus is to decipher the philosophy of what democracy was originally intended to mean: ‘the power belongs to the people’. The current political situation in Greece, as well the treatment of migrants and minorities on whole, is used as the centrepiece examples of democracy giving way to hatred and capitalist tyranny.
Wrapped in the warnings of Plato, many of which sounding eerily familiar, Taylor effectively demonstrates how easily tyranny can rise from extreme conflict between the rich and the poor.
Despite the wealth of information on what a democracy should look like, there is an obvious bias as a high percentage of those interviewed are visible minorities and/or intellectuals who all have similar view points on the discussion.
Not that their views are wrong or invalid, far from it, but their conviction could have been amplified by illustrating what typical working-class white people think about the subject. Taylor does attempt to get their viewpoint, but it only lasts a few minutes and highlights a small sample of their ignorant assumptions. As it stands though, much of what is explored in the film is near undeniable. What is Democracy? provides a very timely commentary on democracy run amok.
Tuesday, September 11, 2:45 PM, Scotiabank
Thursday, September 13, 3:15 PM, Jackman Hall