Ours is a time of illicit war, unchecked corporate greed, and a presidential regime that supports such indecencies. This is the BUSH AGENDA and the conditions for ending it have altered due to the incomprehensible scale of this unparalleled military-corporate-government-media behemoth. Can one person’s actions contribute to checking or better yet changing these huge offenses? And can regular people use the media to grow the scope and speed—the SCALE—of their own voices and principled agendas?
SCALE is the portrait of an activist as a young woman in the media age as told by her older sister, a media activist who has become less sure of what works. In May 2005, activist videomaker Alexandra Juhasz decides to address her confusion about the people’s power to end the war, by focusing her camera upon her sister—peace and anti-globalization activist and policy expert, Antonia Juhasz. Alex shoots Antonia during the lead up to and book tour for her potential bestseller, The BUSH AGENDA: Invading the World One Economy at a Time (HarperCollins, 2006). Alex is interested in Antonia’s “scale-shift”: the rapid increase in attention, audience, visibility, and perhaps even celebrity that Antonia might experience because of her corporate sponsored tour. But Alex is equally compelled by Antonia’s ongoing optimism about organizing and her expertise about economic policy. For like the left itself, Antonia is a bundle of contradictions: radical activist handcuffed to Chevron headquarters; black-suited media expert explaining the Iraq Oil Law on CNBC.
SCALE tells a complex political story between unequal players—small (Antonia) against big (Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Lockheed Martin, and Bechtel); bigger (peace movement) against huge (wreckage of war); right (The Bush Agenda) against wrong (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Libby, et. al.). On tour, Antonia seeks advice from a conflicted left whose solutions are paradoxical: growing bigger and faster, or staying small and true? Protest or blog? Can one person bear such responsibility without compromising? On tour, the personal toll of scaling-up is palpable: where Antonia once sought to link her readers to activism, she begins to want sales and attention as an end in itself. And Alex, and even her pro-peace cameraman, Robbie Leppzer, get caught up in the media madness, too: maybe they can use Antonia’s connections to better the visibility of their own anti-war media… SCALE considers what we all must do to prevail within contemporary conflicts that have the highest of stakes.
At tour’s end, Antonia has made both a return and a critical reconciliation. To end the BUSH AGENDA, we must make use of the small and the large. We must not strive for the awesome, inhuman, and inhumane supremacy modeled by our antagonists. Rather, Antonia’s power, and ours, will come from inter-connection and social movement. We must link up all the positions on the scale—from celebrity, to local decency, grassroots activism, and mainstream interventions—to end the war and the BUSH AGENDA.