A lively film promoting activism via video that is in itself a sophisticated example of the medium. With a personal narrative from author/activist Jon Cooksey, this is a rapid fire account of five problems that are bringing the human race to the brink of disaster due to ecological deterioration of the planet. Using a available low budget props high in visual humor, Cooksey outlines the impacts of population overshoot, habitat destruction of the natural world, increasing human wealth causing disastrous consumption and further destruction, peak oil and global warming.
Peppering his demonstration with illustrated factoids, easily understood metaphors and bathroom humor, his change of costumes and locale are inter-cut with a series of visual cues referencing boomer culture from pong to disco. The humor keeps the viewer from too much despair at his state of the planet address, yet doesn’t flinch from the dreadful facts of our abuse of the oceans with an assault of plastic, the rate of development in China and the disastrous reduction in forest and water supply due to resource depletion. Accompanied with magic marker charts to illustrate the point of overshoot when we should have leveled off our consumption and growth (in 1987), he follows with a "Red Asphalt" attempt at warning us of what will happen if we continue business as usual. Cooksey firmly establishes that we must understand that there are definite limits to what the planet will bear.
He follows with five solutions urging viewers to forget about a techno fix and work on shrinking our consumption to fit these limits starting with ourselves first. Beginning with cultivating a change of heart about how we live, his solutions include reducing energy use, growing food in our own backyards (he demonstrates in his own yard from scratch) and activism using youtube interviews to embarrass corporations that are causing harm into changing their evil ways. Convinced of this David and Goliath approach using nothing more than a digital camera, Cooksey delivers his main message "make friends, make fun, make trouble". And he is infectious in this energy. Everyone can be a youtube star and show and tell what they’ve done. Such is the appeal of a visual medium, that it can both showcase your personality and your accomplishments. The beauty of How To Boil A Frog is that it appeals to our altruism without seeming holier than thou.
It is worth noting that this is one of the few films of the "change the world" genre that actually states that we can’t live as we have been doing and must transition to another way of life. The fast pace of the explanations and quick cultural references may go over the heads of an over 50 audience, but it is perfect for the video generation.