Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video, by Jon Osborne, is an outgrowth of his popular web site (www.missliberty.com). After compiling his movie reviews for years, he decided to publish a book of them. And what a great resource it is! It's sometimes difficult for pro-freedom individuals to find uplifting messages in art, in some part because those values aren't shared with much of pop culture today. Yet it's important to see those ideas, to give us a moral boost, as well as to help present elements of the freedom philosophy to others. Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video is a compilation of movie reviews of interest to libertarians from the earliest days of film-making. As such, it's a powerful reminder that pro-freedom ideas have been present in films for decades. It's also encouraging to see more films in recent years with those messages.
Osborne reviews hundreds of films, rating them for libertarian content and entertainment value. His perspective is that of a film viewer, not of a film critic, so his ratings more closely match a modern movie-goer's opinion than most film critics' ratings might. Films that rate low in libertarian content aren't anti-libertarian; they just don't emphasize those themes much. At the top of each review, Osborne also lists the pro-freedom themes each film contains. That one little thing makes it very easy to browse the book to find movies on specific subjects in order to share them with friends, or to match your current interest. By selecting a topic, and the degree of libertarian content in a film, it's fairly easy to share a movie with a nonlibertarian friend that will not alarm him or her, yet convey a pro-freedom message.
The reviews themselves are interesting reading. Osborne's style is concise yet engaging, telling enough of a plot to entice the reader but not giving things away. He offers bits of inside information from time to time--just enough to show he knows what he's talking about. If a film has been remade, Osborne identifies what differentiates the versions, and usually suggests one as the best of the lot. Generous cross-referencing makes it easy to find movies remade with different names, as well as those known by more than one name. For hard-to-find movies, Osborne includes information on resources that were known to stock it at press time.
Consistent with his meticulous, informative style, Osborne distinguishes the movies that are best for outreach purposes. He also identifies appropriate target audiences (e.g., teenagers, for Pump Up the Volume) for specific films. This is an important point with Osborne; his view is that people are generally reading fewer books nowadays. However, people are still watching movies--lots of them. Because of this, pro-freedom movies may be more effective at opening some individuals' minds than any book or essay. Whether that's accurate or not, Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video is another tool in the pro-freedom kit that is much needed, and of great value to libertarians and potential libertarians alike. Pass the popcorn!
Note: I was involved in this project as a contract employee. The terms of that contract were fulfilled prior to the book's publication. I receive no monetary or other benefit from sales of the book.
(c)2002 Doing Freedom Magazine
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