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Age of Anxiety

Zeitgeist: Addendum at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art

By Ben Larson

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-01-05


When I first sat down with Lindy Doster and Cory Troyer, the two people responsible for bringing Zeitgeist: Addendum to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art on Jan. 25th at 2:00pm, I expected to have a brief chat about the movie, their motivations for wanting to show it, and perhaps a little insight into the broader meaning behind the film.

What I was not prepared for was the hand cramps that were to come from trying to capture absolutely everything they had to say (call me old school, but I still believe in pens and paper rather than tape recorders). Obviously, these were people who’s knowledge on this subject went far beyond the film’s content.

Even though I had already seen Zeitgeist: Addendum myself, I found that I was becoming increasingly fascinated by what Doster and Troyer had to say.

But let me back up for a moment and give you a little background.
Last year, Doster, along with Chris Ruble and Lee Miles, brought the original Zeitgeist movie to Fort Wayne. That film presented a view of America that could only be described as “bleak,” or, as Troyer described it, “daunting and depressing,” and dealt with subjects ranging from religion to 9-11 to the very real potential for America to fall into a totalitarian state vis-a-vis 1984. It was depressing to say the least, and Doster recalled one woman’s reaction: “I asked her how she liked it, and she said ‘well, we were going to go to a birthday party after this, but now I just don’t see the point.’”

Perhaps this type of reaction is why the film makers decided to make a companion piece. While Zeitgeist portrayed an America that had been utterly betrayed by its government, Zeitgeist: Addendum gives a ray of light in the form of a solution to our societal woes. “For me, it provided an alternate viewpoint for the present ideas of the current society,” said Troyer when I asked him to briefly sum up Zeitgeist: Addendum. Doster elaborated on this by stating that “[the film] presents a very attainable utopia that we’re conditioned to think isn’t possible.” She also went on to say that Zeitgeist: Addendum “presents solutions to problems instead of just complaining about them.”

For this writer, that comes as a breath of fresh air. While the first film often made people feel powerless and alone, this companion piece offers “attainable alternatives,” as Troyer puts it. Both Doster and Troyer stressed that the most powerful point of Zeitgeist: Addendum is showing society that we really can all work together to make the world a better place.

Now this is all well and good, but you may be sitting there, asking yourself “OK, fine, but why should I go see this?” That is a fair question, and one I posed to Troyer. “It’s a fantastic vehicle for critical thinking.” He went on to say that the film helps teach us to question the source of the information we receive in order to make up our own minds. “I don’t care if you agree with everything [that’s said in the film]. What’s important is that it causes questioning and dialogue with your own belief system.” When I asked Doster the same question, her response was equally intriguing. “People should see it so that they feel some sort of connection.” She also said that the movie helps to point out the importance of respecting life and showing tolerance, meaning that, if we can all look past our petty differences, the human race has the potential to do marvelous things.

Both Troyer and Doster agree that society’s motivations and underlying goals need to change. Troyer put it simply by stating that society should be “preserving people before profit.” I’m sure anyone who has seen their 401(k) dwindle in recent years can relate to this sentiment, and this is the crux of the message in Zeitgeist: Addendum. I’m trying not to let out too much information here, lest I spoil the film, but I will tell you that the type of society proposed by the film makers is one where people are free to do what they love in life, unencumbered by financial and societal pressures. Sounds crazy, right? Well, not exactly. Oddly enough (and I’m quite possibly the most cynical person I know), the solutions presented in the film really seem fairly plausible. Basically the film makers propose that, if we let go of the arbitrary ideals and dogmas that serve to divide us as people, and realize that we can only improve the world if we work together, we can reach a point where we don’t need things like money. It’s not communism or socialism. It’s something far more progressive.

At the end of our discussion, I asked both Doster and Troyer what they hoped to accomplish by showing Zeitgeist: Addendum in Fort Wayne. “This is our small way to do something in our community,” said Troyer, “to help people become more concerned with relationships rather than their consumer status.” He also said that we should all be aware of how the choices we make affect others, and how it would do us as people good to realize how much our actions have consequences on others (a good way to put this into context may be to look at the current situation with the adjustable rate mortgage market). Doster explained that one of her motivations was to cause real, meaningful dialogue among people, to discuss things that really matter and affect everyone by pointing out our problems and posing solutions. Or, to put it bluntly, “It would be nice to discuss things that really matter.”

Zeitgeist: Addendum will be showing at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art on Jan. 25th at 2:00pm. More information on the film can be found at www.zeitgeistmovie.com. This screening is not a museum-sponsored event.

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