This painting called 'Blessed Art Thou' (as in 'Blessed art though among women' from the Hail Mary . . . ) is by a Florida artist Kate Kretz. Her depiction of Angelina and her young ones hovering over a Walmart has been receiving lots of press attention lately and her blog has gone from receiving 30 unique hits a day to about 15,000! Blogs are so interesting because they allow you to see things from angles other than those presented in the mainstream press. For instance, her blog post for today is giving the back story/alternative view behind a semi-negative article about her art published by the associated press likening the piece to van art. You decide. I like it.
Speaking of Walmart, Stu and I recently watched the documentary Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices. It was fairly good and did a sound job of categorising Walmart's wrongs on everything from how it treats its employees, to its use of sweat shops in China and the way it kills all local business when it moves into the area. Three things were particularly notable. First, it was striking how many of the everyday people who were negatively affected by and were speaking out in opposition prefaced their comments with something to the effect of, 'I'm a loyal American but . . . ' It was as if people feared that they were in danger of committing treason for questioning the free market ethos. Second, there was a big segment of the documentary that revealed that Walmart encourages its employees to seek state benefit programmes to get everything from food vouchers to health care. It was sad to see how discouraged people were with working 40 plus hours a week and not making near a living wage. Finally, it was really interesting/puzzling to see how much local municipalities have paid Walmart as incentives to bring stores to local areas. Pay a multi-billion dollar company to come into your community and kill all the other businesses within a matter of weeks . . . That makes sense . . . A lot of what the documentary covers you sort of know in the back of your head and we weren't surprised at how bad they are, but just reflecting on it now it makes me steaming mad. Boo (and boycott) to Walmart (and Asda here in the UK.)
Just quickly while I'm on the subject of documentaries and greedy corporations, I would strongly recommend Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. It does a fantastic job of telling both the numbers and human story of Enron. Bethany McLean, the journalist who initially questioned Enron's accounting systems and then went on to co-write a book chronicling the corporation's collapse is inspiring. If anyone's seen any good documentaries lately, please leave me a comment - I'm always on the look out.
Since this post began with some pop culture (but then diverged into a bit of a rant) I will finish with something lighter and of the same ilk - I watched Ugly Betty for the first time on Friday night (yes, it may be old news to you but bear with me as it just premiered here!) It was very good (although funnily similar to The Devil Wears Prada which I also really enjoyed) and I really liked the star America Ferrera (not to mention her cool name.)