Ethos. Indeed, This Documentary is Full of It!

*UPDATE: Please note that the crediting issue mentioned here has been fixed after this post was written, and a new version of the film, with credits, was released.

Since "Ethos" is Greek for, "guiding beliefs or ideas that characterize a community," the filmmakers chose their title well. Their film does more than talk about the manipulation and lies and lack of ethics it tries to expose, it embodies them.
"Ethos" is a newly available, feature-length documentary directed by Pete McGrain and released by the Santa Monica-based, Media for Action. This is their first official release, which boasts itself as powerful, controversial, and new.
I call it shameful; a lazy yet arrogant collage. Like students copying material from several sites and pasting it into one document, adding a bit of glue between paragraphs then calling it their own essay, that’s precisely what this film is. Totally unoriginal. A form of fraud.

Clearly, despite the fact that Media for Action loudly embraces the non-profit label, these people are full of crap, doing this for personal gain, hoping that the star-power of their host, Woody Harrelson, will attract a sufficiently large audience to eventually guarantee a worthwhile career and paycheck for Media for Action folks through Ethos.  If Micheal Moore can make millions with this growing genre, why not us?  
In short: people with absolutely nothing new to say who are trying to take an easy advantage of a market by ripping-off those who, before them, have worked very hard to deliver a worthwhile and profound message.

At the beginning, Harrelson specifies, “the material for this film is taken from facts available to the public, and from interviews with some of today’s leading thinkers.” 
In truth, the material is entirely lifted from several documentaries, including all interviews, and presented here as if fresh, complete with a new voice reading a highly or directly plagiarized narrative text.
Amongst some of the documentaries "Ethos" directly steals from:
The Corporation; Zetgeist; Zeitgeist Addendum; Manufacturing Consent; War Made Easy; Beyond Treason; Invisible Empire; The Century of the Self; The Future of Food. 

Ethos merely skims through one documentary before moving on to the next and as such offers only a basal overview and absolutely nothing new. From what I can tell, the film contains no more than 10% new material, all of it ‘glue’ to tie-in their “cut & paste” job.    
No credits are given anywhere; the only people mentioned are the director and producers, all three names mentioned are clearly those of Media for Action founders. Slightly more info is offered on the official movie page,, but again, the only credits for all the lifted source material is, "...and source material from the finest documentary film makers of our times." That's it. Press releases, websites, film et al. zero signs of respect and even less adherence to copyright laws.  

In fact, the Media for Action website, despite being official looking, contains no real information whatsoever on the company and, surprise, their mission statement is just a series of clich├ęs taken from several sources and strung together. No address and no members board; no organization breakdown and an anonymous contact form.  
Further, the “recent articles” they present, and which, at first glance, we are led to believe are either by Media for Action people or about the company, are random articles on any subject of “independent media” taken from a wide variety of sources and reposted on their site (but with sources mentioned this time). There is however, a very contradictory and ambiguous though very carefully worded disclaimer which has absolutely no validity given that the film was made by an organization member and that they themselves do not abide to any copyright laws.    
Yet, in a press release, Isabella Michelle Marles, Co Producer and Founder of Media for Action, is bold enough to claim, “Proper journalism is about asking tough questions. Having a constant eye to the bottom line or corporate agendas compromises good journalism. Operating as a non profit lets us negotiate that dilemma.” In fact, the entire press release is one egotistical piece of propaganda considering the film’s content and their own manipulation of information and facts.

Keep in mind that their slogan is, “Sponsoring Truth in Media Across the Globe.”

True, the film may be passing on a diluted but worthwhile message, but still, that's no reason to encourage the Media for Action folks. No other industry would tolerate such blatant plagiarism, neither should documentary makers and enthusiasts, no matter how granola or good-hearted.  I reluctantly include the film here; for you to judge:  

Keep on clicking!

© 2011, Pascal-Denis Lussier


Jeanie said...

Though I have to agree with you about the shameless banditry of the film makers I still think it has some value for reaching a wider audience even if it has to start with Woody Harrelson fans...hehe Information even rehashed is still new to some folks.

Caroline said...

"No credits are given anywhere" : Have you looked to the final credits, you know, at the end of the movie? He clearly thanks the makers of the films from which he took the clips...

Pascal-Denis Lussier said...

Caroline: You can trust that I thoroughly checked all available info, ESPECIALLY the final credits. The version I saw and wrote about (back on Feb. 25th)--their first release--had zero credits and the text tip-toed around legal rights issues; it was shameful at best. I know the film was removed from the Web and was unavailable for a while... perhaps they decided to do things right? Is there a new version out with proper credits? I shall check it out. Thanks for letting me know.

Caroline said...

Hi Pascal-Denis, indeed, the film available on the website and the one you can download do have the proper credits at the end. ;) The films are also promoted on the website.

Anonymous said...

Having a "star" faceman is wise because it may actually get some of the sheep to listen, who wouldn't otherwise. If they are on the glowing magic box, then their opinion means more than you and I. As far as credits, really ?

Leslie said...

I say if having Woody Harrelson narrate (very current due to his recent role in Hunger Games) gains attention to the important issues that are introduced in the film, it's well worth it. And while they could have gone into more depth, an hour is about the maximum attention span of most people if there's no nudity or blowing stuff up.

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