Drying for Freedom

DRYING FOR FREEDOM is a quirky, informative documentary which investigates the relation between the decline in the washing line and the toll of electricity upon the environment. Travelling across the United States, Steven Lake compiles archival advertising footage, interviews and statistics, beginning from the post-war boom of consumerism, the ‘Live Better Electrically’ campaign and the affluence of Homeowners Associations of the fifties, to tell a fascinating story that not only reaffirms the environmental threat but rouses pertinent issues over American conservatism.

Local residents even compared washing lines to ‘ghetto culture’ …

The most revealing encounter is a real estate agent in California who insists on the community being ‘uniform throughout’ because ‘people shouldn’t just do what they want’, to which a German resident responds ‘We had Adolf and this is worse’. Local residents even compared washing lines to ‘ghetto culture’, suggesting a paranoia very much inherent in US culture, the real estate agent believing she is being tailed by a local resident who, she suggests, might think she is a member of Al Qaida – such is the apparent level of ignorance and fear.

The documentary progresses into the darker side of this debate, changing scene to India which, if it were to follow suit and pursue total electrical living with its 400 million that live without, would accelerate the world toward environmental disaster. Whether this would actually be feasible, what with India’s lack of resources and numerous power cuts, is not addressed, but it nevertheless is a thought-provoking finish when Lake informs us how the US, with just 4% of the world’s population, uses 25% of the world’s electricity. Whether east will follow west or west will revert to east, this documentary is thought-provoking, original and utterly absorbing.



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