MCFly co-editor Marc Hudson finds out that his price is a little higher than a free ice-cream and a comp showing of an American eco-documentary.
I would have been better off staying at the Friends of the Earth meeting (1). That’s not a sentence anyone can type lightly, btw, but it’s true in this case. Instead I co-operated with a previous obligation and went across the road to Affleck’s Palace. There, in the rather delightful venue known as “The Three Minute Theatre” (2) , a twenty-minute farce unfolded.
A showing was being held of “Gasland,” an American documentary about how awful fracking (tipping chemicals down holes to get gas out) is. In an irony as delicious as the free ice-cream, the event was fracking awful.
The Co-operative (3), a big employer in this city, and – once it hoovers up all those Lloyds Bank branches across t’country – a big employer nationally, had sponsored the showing. In a fit of unco-operativeness, they failed to check their dates. And so they clashed with the Friends of the Earth’s regular monthly meeting. Always on the second Tuesday of the month, and this month on the subject of … energy and what we can do locally.
As I collected stub for my free my ice-cream, I realised that someone was unco-operatively taking photos of me.. I asked him to stop. He co-operated. I co-operatively mentioned that I wouldn’t have minded, if he had simply asked my consent. He was part of a trio recording the showing, and the audience’s reaction to the film, apparently for some documentary (about people watching a documentary. Mise-en-abyme, much?). While he co-operated by stopping taking photos of me, I didn’t see him co-operate with the basic ethical point of consent by asking anyone else if they were happy being snapped. One of the documentary-makers asked me to co-operate with her plans by sitting in the front row so my reactions to the film could be filmed. I declined to co-operate. I also asked the guy to delete the photos of me. He said he’d co-operate.
The “organisers” then decided to co-operate with the many people who had co-operated by booking free tickets but who had then decided not to co-operate with the concept of punctuality. This sadly meant the organisers didn’t co-operate with the people who had co-operated by turning up on time. Choices, eh?
Still, during the wait, I got said hello to by someone from Manchester City Council’s Green City Team. They didn’t co-operate with my request for information about what on earth is happening to the Environmental Advisory Panel, but to be fair this may have been because my vocal chords had not co-operated in actually voicing the question. And they had their mind-reading function switched off. (4)
The guy who’d filmed me without consent then co-operated fully with the general ethical vacuum of the event by setting up a camera at the front of the room to film the entire audience as they watched the film.
This. Is. Fine. If…. And…. Only… If… Informed…. Consent… Is… Given. Simples.
All one of the organisers needed to say
“Hi everyone, the price of your free ticket and an ice-cream is that we film you watching this film and use the footage as we see fit. If you don’t like it, you can a) bugger off or b) sit way at the back or c) wear one of these gimp/V for Vendetta masks that we’ve brought along and are selling for the reasonable price of £5”.
So, I decided that further co-operation with such an unco-operative bunch, who clash with established green events, who take photos without asking, who start a long film late on a school night, was not called for, and so I invoked the law of two feet. As I left I heard the opening words of the film – some guy saying “I always used to be pretty optimistic.” Well, he’d obviously not been to this documentary-showing.
There’s an aching need for opportunities for people to collaborate, co-ordinate and, yes, co-operate. This was such an opportunity, and it was wasted. By clashing with a big established group, by knowing nothing about the anti-fracking motion that goes before Manchester City Council tomorrow, by having entirely dubious ethics about consent, this event co-operated with the yoof expression “epic fail.”
(1) I am a card-carrying member of Manchester Friends of the Earth
(2) And innocent of any wrong-doing
(3) I am a card-carrying customer of the Co-operative Bank. I am a TOWIE (“the only way is ethics”) rather than one of the legions of people who have joined them over the years for their legendary customer service.
(4) I’ll pop the question to an elected member, who regularly ‘engages’ with the publication.