One of my favorite websites is PBS Frontline. They currently have 45 full-length shows available to watch online at www.pbs.org/frontline. I’ve posted here in the past about a couple of the best episodes I’ve seen including Douglas Rushkoff’s The Persuaders and The Merchants of Cool. Here’s some info about several recently uploaded episodes I watched this week.
Is Wal-Mart Good for America?
FRONTLINE explores the relationship between U.S. job losses and the American consumer’s insatiable desire for bargains in “Is Wal-Mart Good for America?” Through interviews with retail executives, product manufacturers, economists, and trade experts, correspondent Hedrick Smith examines the growing controversy over the Wal-Mart way of doing business and asks whether a single retail giant has changed the American economy.
“Wal-Mart’s power and influence are awesome,” Smith says. “By figuring out how to exploit two powerful forces that converged in the 1990s — the rise of information technology and the explosion of the global economy — Wal-Mart has dramatically changed the balance of power in the world of business. Retailers are now more powerful than manufacturers, and they are forcing the decision to move production offshore.”
A Company of Soldiers
In November 2004, a FRONTLINE production team embedded with the soldiers of the 1-8 Cavalry’s Dog Company in south Baghdad to document the day-to-day realities of a life-and-death military mission that also includes rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure, promoting its economic development, and building positive relations with its people.
Filming began three days after the Fallujah campaign was launched in November 2004. There was a surge in violence as an insurgent group, thought to have come from Ramadi, launched a series of ambushes and attacks in Dog Company’s sector.
The Way the Music Died
In the recording studios of Los Angeles and the boardrooms of New York, they say the record business has been hit by a perfect storm: a convergence of industry-wide consolidation, Internet theft, and artistic drought. The effect has been the loss of billions of dollars, thousands of jobs, and that indefinable quality that once characterized American pop music.
“It’s a classic example of art and commerce colliding and nobody wins,” says Nic Harcourt, music director at Los Angeles’s KCRW-FM. “It’s just a train wreck.”
In “The Way the Music Died,” FRONTLINE follows the trajectory of the recording industry from its post-Woodstock heyday in the 1970s and 1980s to what one observer describes as a “hysteria” of mass layoffs and bankruptcy in 2004. The documentary tells its story through the aspirations and experiences of four artists: veteran musician David Crosby, who has seen it all in a career spanning 35 years; songwriter/producer Mark Hudson, a former member of the Hudson Brothers band; Hudson’s daughter, Sarah, who is about to release her first single and album; and a new rock band, Velvet Revolver, composed of former members of the rock groups Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots, whose first album will be released in June.