Big Debt Is Big Business in Maxed Out
- Friday, June 08, 2007
The problem, from a cinematic point of view, is that Scurlock doesn’t seem to know which industry he’s taking on, so his points seem rather haphazard. Is it the federal government? Mortgage brokers? Banks? Credit card companies? The scattershot way that he approaches his material makes this unclear—and thus dilutes his message. He even throws in a few newsreel shots of Hurricane Katrina refugees as well as some comments from a pawn shop owner about soldiers not being provided with body armor (which was the case, but is no longer). He often appears to trivialize issues, especially the suicides, with a soundtrack of catchy tunes (like Coldplay).
Predatory lending is real. As a reporter in Atlanta, Ga., I interviewed family after family who had been duped by unscrupulous lenders. Because they were not even remotely aware of what they were signing, many lost their homes—which had, in many cases, been paid off. Of these victims, a huge percentage was elderly. The biggest surprise, however, was not the unscrupulous tactics used by these “sub-prime lenders.” It was the fact that these predatory lending institutions are often owned by the country’s biggest, most reputable banks. This powerful lobby explains why, to this day, the state of Georgia has been unable to pass legislation that fully protects citizens from these practices. Banks are also, not surprisingly, the biggest contributors to presidential campaigns.
Credit has become a complicated issue. On one side are those who are truly taken advantage of by unprincipled lenders, in an industry that cares far more about profit than anyone’s wellbeing. On the other side are those who just want a big screen TV, and who, much like Scarlett O’Hara, prefer to think about the bills “tomorrow.” Unfortunately, for many, tomorrow has come.
AUDIENCE: Adults and older teens
- Multiple featurettes including:
- “The Wise Use of Credit”
- “What is a Credit Report?”
- “Bankruptcy: A Life-Changing Experience”
- “Dave Ramsey on Personal Responsibility”
- “Americans for Fairness in Lending”
- Drugs/Alcohol: Little or none.
- Language/Profanity: A few obscenities and profanities, some strong, in the context of a stand-up comic ranting about finances.
- Sexual Content/Nudity: None.
- Violence: Brief street scenes of Hurricane Katrina; various discussions of suicide, including teens who committed suicide; news clip of car being dragged from river, with voiceover talking about the bones of a body inside.
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