Overview: Greenland recorded its highest temperatures ever in 2013. Though some say that’s not cause for concern, the equivalent of three Chesapeake Bays’-worth of water melts off the island every year, affecting sea levels around the world. VICE embarks on an expedition to Greenland with climate scientist Jason Box to discover the reasons for the melting, and how the resulting sea level rise will mean devastation sooner than expected.
Millions of men, women and children work as bonded laborers in Pakistan’s brick kilns pictured above). This abusive practice is facilitated by the devastating disenfranchisement of workers and by the pervasive corruption of the brick kiln industry and Pakistani law enforcement. VICE goes to the brick kilns to see the conditions and learn how certain organizations are fighting back by rescuing the workers from this modern-day slavery.
Expectations: Join me for my thoughts. These two segments visit topics often discussed by VICE Media and VICE on HBO. The first focuses on climate change. You have noticed this hot topic is no longer termed “global warming”, right? It is certainly best called “climate change” with most of us surviving the polar vortex and all. If you have followed VICE Media at all you know that this crisis is stated as not only being one of the hot topics of our planet but for VICE as well. During Season One Shane Smith visited the topic in Episode 8 “Fighting Chance.” That piece, called The World Is Sinking, focuses on the effects of the obvious rising waters that have hit such locales as the Maldives Islands and Venice, Italy. The piece, like most typical VICE pieces, offers the facts and little solutions.
Now the new season reports again on the topic. I am sure this piece will also give the usual treatment of stating the facts without knowing of any solutions. We go to the source; we go to the region that is causing the waters to rise and the world to shrink. I am expecting quite an interesting report as I am intrigued by the notion of black ice.
The second segment this episode takes us to Pakistan and another common topic for VICE. Slavery and forced labor around the world is a real way of life and a real issue to be explored. It is always an alerting experience to go into these places, such as the brick kilns of Pakistan, and once again see the harsh human nature that abounds in the world. I expect to feel shock and dismay from this one as only VICE can give it. I am also looking forward to this report because it features new correspondent Fazeelat Aslam. She was born in Pakistan and is now a New York, NY based filmmaker. She has an Academy Award for being a co-producer of the HBO Documentary Films: SAVING FACE which HBOWatch reviewed. I will have more on discovering her approach and tone in the section below. I have to watch the episode first.
Gut Reaction: Looking at the first segment, here is my take on Greenland is Melting reported by VICE co-founder and correspondent Shane Smith.
Something odd just happened while watching this piece. I am not throwing any disrespect towards scientist Jason Box (pictured with Smith) nor to the captured images of Greenland, but for me, in this instance, pictures did not speak louder than words. Even though we were told that these are chunks of glacier many feet high and weighing several hundreds of pounds and are truly amazing to behold they didn’t hold great impact for me. Even though we saw them calving off and heard them crash and saw the helicopter so small against them I was not gripped until I heard the words spoken by the second expert, Dr. Gavin Schmidt. His words made me tremble in my shoes more than the shattering shards of ice melting and crashing. I find it odd because it is the imagery that usually convinces and confirms; just not this time. Dr. Schmidt describes a dangerous scenario that I have never heard quite articulated like he presented it here.
The feeling we are left with here is one of impending doom. It is as if to say here is what is happening; here is why it is happening; here are the factors that cause it to happen and lastly, unless we are able to change our habits in insurmountable ways, it will continue to happen leading only to dire results. Okay, then, good luck with that!
Bonded Labor reported by correspondent Fazeelat Aslam.
Her report is the perfect explanation to what Shane Smith must have meant when he said that they now have people who can go into places that American cannot go. This piece is just right for her; it is not like throwing Tom Morton into a Laamb wrestling match. Fazeelat knows Pakistan; she knows the language, the customs, the government and the ins and outs to get this story told. Her delivery is concise with no wasted words. She perfectly explains what bonded labor is and its endless trap.
As if this segment doesn’t spell out enough it adds a dash of danger as well. Without giving it all away arrangements are made to rescue families from a brick kiln and VICE goes along for the ride. They hope for police support, but the kiln owners pay of the local constabulary so it doesn’t look good. Fazeelat ends up reporting from the floor of the van. What starts as a report ends up with some action. It proved an exciting segment, but the end result has good and bad news for those in bonded labor. Again, no spoiler here – oh, okay, one clip.
In Conclusion: Before I get to the Debriefed clips for this episode I’ll mention one closing thought. Having written only two reviews so far this season I have noticed a different perspective from my writings for Season One. Last year I was just agog about what I was seeing and almost numbed by it. Since then I have immersed myself in VICE media and paid more intention to what is going on around my planet. I haven’t become more thick-skinned, just more aware. What becomes clear is that VICE is giving us a pure newsfeed. It is not activism asking us to assist in a cause, but just reporting the world as it is. Once you accept that you become less angry, but not necessarily less dismayed and saddened. You become more accepting of what is happening around our globe. I thank VICE for that knowledge and insight. There is plenty of opportunity for you to agree, disagree, comment and debate below. Now here is the Debriefed clips.
Other air dates for this episode are 03.25 at 11:00pm and 03.27 at midnight and can be seen on HBO2 and HBOGo. I know this post is clip heavy but it would not be complete without a Preview of Episode 3. Peace.