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Exit Zero

by on March 9, 2013

Now that you who went to the showing have completely forgotten about it, what did you think of the film. Other than the fact that it was too long and that they should have stopped harassing her dad after the 20th time of him saying no to an interview…

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  1. The Exit Zero documentary details the effects of deindustrialization in Southeast Chicago, which was once one of the leading steel-producing industries in the world. The documentary highlights the experiences of the families of steel mill workers, and the many ways that they were effected by the rise and fall of an industry that truly shaped and propelled the founding of America. I was very interested in the ways that the documentary highlighted the clear connection between the residents exposure to the chemicals and products being used in the factories, and the high cancer rates in the area. More and more studies today reveal the clear connection between exposure to particular metals and chemicals used in industry and serious health issues. In addition, I was alarmed by how little support and compensation from the government that there was for the workers who lost their jobs once the factories shut down. While I agree that the documentary was entirely too long and that at points it focused too heavily on the minute details of her father’s experience, it does raise an important question of humans duty to one another and to the environment. The destruction caused in the region is irreversible and all too similar to the cases of many other former industrial areas that have been abandoned and shut down throughout the United States, as well as in other parts of the world. In all, I was happy to see that someone had done such extensive research into this important environmental and sociological issue because it is one that has had such an impact on our country.

  2. Outside of the critiques you already made of the film, I liked the decision to use a specific case study to illustrate the effects of deindustrialization. As a history major, I have studied the European and American Industrial Revolutions multiple times and memorized the important benefits of industry of each’s economy, culture, and general livelihood. Industrial Revolutions transformed the cultural atmosphere of both countries through dress, female employment, family structure, and income levels to name a few. Industrial Revolutions were marks of the Europeans mark to Westernize like Americans whereas for Americans it marked their efforts to modernize. Although we briefly touched upon the negative effects of the Industrial Revolutions, I never once was taught about “deindustrialization”. Perhaps this shows my naive nature or my ignorance but I would think with the amount of textbooks dedicated to the Industrial Revolution, one would mention the deindustrialization. We praise the influx of technology and the shifts from factory workers to technology employers but this video showed us the “untold” side of the story. I think a strength of the video is the comprehensive but clear background given at the beginning of the film. However, as obviously observed by everyone, the weakness is the video’s length as the narrator begins to ramble. If things continued to be as concise as the beginning portion, the interest and purpose of the video would greatly benefit.

  3. DannyTierney2016 permalink

    Though I agree with the other comments that the movie was much to too long and the narrator began to ramble and speak a lot, a definite strength was the attempt to show the personal side to the larger story of deindustrialization in Southeast Chicago. While most people may be familiar with the subject of deindustrialization and the reasons behind it, I liked that the movie explained that history while weaving in how it personally affected people and families. The movie showed how the community’s health was affected and how they dealt with the job loss and loss of pension. The movie did a good job of depicting how a once bustling community with readily available jobs and a clear life paved for young men, became a forgotten place with men who seemed to be left behind with health and economic hardships. Weaving in this personal narrative definitely had the intention of pulling the viewer in and to try and put the viewer into the situation, to make them feel and try to understand the emotions of these people in Southeast Chicago.

  4. Chapin Evans permalink

    I am replying very late after this film was aired but I had a lot of thoughts about it. I agree with Danielle, I think that the movie was so deeply personal that the narrator decided to include almost too much background story/lead up to the central problem. At the same time, I don’t think there was enough emotional connection with the characters to warrant the extraneous commentary. It’s definitely difficult to create an emotional connection with random people by an amateur director, so I think it would have been better to either focus on the film as a strictly personal story or strictly informational.
    Nevertheless… once the film started, it really gave an in depth historical background of the area. I had to take notes to follow what exactly was happening and figure out which factory was corrupted or laying off its workers.
    I watched this film for my Sociology of Trouble class as well, so I analyzed the character’s struggles from that point of view as well. What was happening to the companies and to the surrounding environment was really personally troubling. Most of the people, including the narrator’s father, had family members in the steel business for generations and this was the reality that they knew. I compared their struggles to the struggles after Hurricane Katrina – the residents of New Orleans were resistant to change, no matter how beneficial it was, because their reality had been so severely disrupted that they could not imagine a different life.
    I think that films like this as well as sociological discussions help shed light on the personal troubles that become public issues when it comes to political disasters like Katrina. I have begun to believe that understanding and empathizing is the closest we can come to a “solution” for such drastic life changes.

  5. Adam Schmidt permalink

    I think this movie, although as everyone has said was extended to long, was a real eye opener in regards to companies and cities that are effected by a closing building. The depression that seemed to overtake the narrators father was incredible. He seemed like he had nothing to live for once his factory shut down in Chicago. Then again i would feel the same way. The steel industry is one that is not really relevant in our society today compared to the mid 1900’s. The company used to feel like a family and now all the workers lost their family

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