Given that humans have only been around such a short time, we've had a hell of an impact on the world. Ancient history gets lumped into big 65 million-year chunks, but our modern history, especially in America, can be broken down almost decade by decade. A lot has changed for us in a short period, and with so much going on, it's important to be on top of social issues. These five social documentaries are must-see viewing for any responsible citizen, so do yourself a favor and increase your level of social responsibility, okay? After all, we're all in this together!
"Super Size Me"
It's pretty well-known now, and it's been spoofed plenty of times, but Morgan Spurlock's 2005 doc "Super Size Me" was huge when it came out, literally. The obesity epidemic in America hasn't gotten better since Spurlock showed just how bad fast food can be for you. In fact, it seems like obesity is getting worse. If you find yourself craving a daily Big Mac, you may want to do yourself a favor and watch what happens to Spurlock after a month of fast food. You may think twice before scarfing down a greasy burger. And with skyrocketing health care costs due in large part to obesity ailments, it's probably best that we all cut down on fast food.
"An Inconvenient Truth"
Al Gore decided he was going to bring something very serious to the public's attention. Something very real, and very scary. No, not Manbearpig, like he famously did on "South Park." He made a movie about the perils of global warming. There's still plenty of debate about the impact of mankind on the Earth, and its very likely that the Earth will destroy us long before we ever destroy it, but Gore makes a good case in this movie. At the very least it's probably a good idea to cut down on the fossil fuels, unless we want $5 gas to stick around forever.
"12th And Delaware"
This HBO documentary takes a close look at something that's very much in the public consciousness, especially during election season. That would be abortion. It's a spiky subject, but responsibly citizens should make themselves aware of the facts surrounding this issue, and the people who exist on both sides. This documentary shows a small town where an abortion clinic and an anti-abortion group have literally set up shop on opposite corners of an intersection. The highlight would be a man, a self-professed Christian, finding out who the abortion doctor is, presumably to eliminate him via murder for hire.
Sudan is far from the garden spot of the world. Life is likely hard enough in Darfur, Sudan, without the added threat of genocidal atrocities. "Darfur Now" follows several stories related to Darfur, including American activists who are trying to prevent the Sudanese government from receiving any sort of money, given their corrupt nature and implicit sponsorship of terrorism. But more harrowing than that are the stories from victims of the terror, like the women whose baby was beaten to death by terrorists in Darfur. Yes, they beat her baby to death. If that doesn't make you stand up and take notice, then nothing will.
Just because something happened 70 years ago doesn't make it any less significant. That's especially true given the ongoing military conflicts that dot the globe, even the ones in which Americans are involved. This 2007 documentary tells the story of what happened in WWII-era China. In 1937, Japanese troops occupied the city of Nanking, China. During their occupation, Japanese soldiers massacred 200,000 citizens, and they raped 20,000 women in one of the darkest and most disturbing moments in modern human history. The lesson in this movie is that atrocities like this must never be repeated, and that military transparency is paramount. Secrecy can be a useful tool, but the corrupt and evil will use it to destroy the lives of others.