Call + Response: Slavery Is Bigger Than Illegal Downloading?

Somebody's got to pick up where Bono left off, right? A Bay Area musician and Live Aid baby, Justin Dillon recently discovered human trafficking, then decided to make a movie about it. Performance excerpts from what will presumably be the companion music DVD (the "Concert to End Slavery") are annoyingly interspersed here with Dillon's earnest efforts at self-education on the dismaying subject. Madeline Albright, The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof, and other experts give him a tutorial on the millions of women and children who are pressed into service as prostitutes, child soldiers, and agricultural workers. Cornel West (gah!) explains slavery and the blues. (Seattle viewers will recognize former Congressman John Miller among the film's more informed voices of outrage.) Onscreen graphics, palsied camera work, and those damn music clips (from Matisyahu, Moby, etc.) make this more MTV than Frontline, but Dillon knows his audience was weaned on basic cable. The result is like American Idol meets a CARE infomercial. Concerned celebrity-activists Ashley Judd, Daryl Hannah, and Julia Ormond testify to the horrors of trafficking, and even visit a few brothels in Thailand and India. If you don't read the papers, this would be shocking and new. That the Oscar-winning documentary Born Into Brothels was there first, and to better effect, doesn't deter Dillon's enthusiastic advocacy for "open-source activism." His call is commendable if not compelling. "I don't want to wear someone else's despair," Judd tells him about Third World garment manufacturing. Hey, we should put that on a T-shirt! Oh, wait...

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