An inconvenient truth.
Whereas popular media such as TV shows, news broadcasts, music, and feature films soften the population’s opposition to certain ideas – or create a somewhat intangible, fuzzy support – documentaries can inspire real, active change.
The current revival of the environmentalist movement can be tied directly to the release of Davis Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth; the U.S.’s Affordable Care Act would never have gained the momentum it did without Sicko; and what about all of the people who now protest against the justice system and law enforcement due to Paradise Lost or Making a Murderer?*
Those few documentaries inspired more passionate action and societal change than the entire historic catalog of books, films, breathless news reports, and TV shows about natural disasters, incompetent healthcare systems, and wrongfully accused individuals.
There’s just something about a 90-minute visual education piece on a compelling topic that moves people; especially when there is a David vs. Goliath story at the core. Americans love the concept of underdogs fighting against some sort of injustice – especially when it’s institutionalized. The larger, greedier, more dishonest, and heartless the opponent, the more people will sit up and take notice; righteous indignation turning their knuckles white.
Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I have no connection with Aaron Biebert, or any of the people at Attention Era Media who have made the documentary called A Billion Lives – which is the equivalent of An Inconvenient Truth, Sicko, and Making a Murderer for the vaping / tobacco harm reduction issue.
I just know an effective thing when I see it.
I have already covered the importance of gaining traction with the general public; that inattentive and borderline apathetic massive sea of people who are spending significantly more time wondering who Negan killed than considering the devastating implications of a government agency unilaterally shutting down an entire industry without cause.
Keep in mind, you don’t need these people to get out of their La-Z-Boys, put on shoes, and picket for your right to vape. You just need them to get to a point of positive indifference – meaning they still won’t personally care about vaping, but they will see nothing wrong with you doing it.
Here is an example of what positive indifference looks like. I personally love women; I am married to a woman and can’t ever see that changing – it’s just right for me. But I don’t oppose your desire to marry whoever or whatever you want; same sex, a cat, Siri, your Dyson vacuum – it doesn’t matter to me. And although I’m not going to go out and fight for your right to marry an appliance, I’m also not going to support anyone who is trying to stop you from doing it.
The power of positive indifference is this; when the general public doesn’t oppose your cause, then the actions of a small, passionate minority can make exponentially more progress with regard to public policy. And when you are bullied in your quest, the public will react like an older brother who goes to the same high school as you; he’s not going to leave his place on the bench to get involved in your drama, but he will tell your bully to just leave you the hell alone.
That’s exactly why A Billion Lives is critically important right now. It will change the public stance from opposition to positive indifference – and that’s all you need it to do.
Supporting ‘A Billion Lives’
With independent films like A Billion Lives, the options are usually (a) hit film festivals in the hopes of a distribution deal, (b) coordinate independent showings, or (c) strike a deal with streaming platforms like Netflix, HBO, or Apple. All of which can take time and delay a film’s release by years.
Thanks to your opponents, you don’t have years to get this story before the public. You have…right now.
The worst thing that you can do at this point is to just assume that A Billion Lives will magically hit theaters and attract mainstream attention. It’ll take sponsors (money), widespread vape industry support, and a massive grassroots publicity campaign. It’s going to take you getting involved and helping Biebert to get this message out in a way that the public and the media won’t be able to ignore.
The timing of this film’s completion is serendipitous, to say the least. An aligning of the planets. But if you are going to benefit from it, you are going to have to make it happen. Fast.
I’m telling you, it’ll be worth it.