Society can never forgive certain crimes. But can the criminals learn to forgive themselves? When I first saw The Work, it had been less than a day since I had returned from another visit to the United States. Never before has a country fascinated me so much – a people I have so many prejudices against, the nation that is the axis for any discussion of media, democracy, liberalism, welfare and the rest of the posts on the continuous list of future concerns, both in social media and on everyone's lips. The fact that I have crossed the Atlantic five times in the last five years to observe and become part of the notion of America did not occur to me until I sat and watched The Work. On the screen in front of me was a group of people crying together in a prison, as a consummation of the hundred-year-old teardown of the American dream.
Land of Liberty. Liberalism, seen as billboards with anti-abortion advertising and "aggressive lawyers specialized in injury-compensation"; casinos, mega churches and double shifts for seven dollars an hour; beggars who go from trolley to trolley on the subway and loudly announce their personal history before asking for help; pregnant young women lying on the street under dirty blankets and sleeping next to an improvised cardboard sign; the invisible hand that builds skyscraper after skyscraper in big cities; not least, tax-financed, private prisons filled with non-white men who are raised in gang environments. Little is more unfair than this freedom.
"The Land of the Free" has the world's second highest percentage of prisoners per capita, topping the total statistics with 2,3 million inmates – half a million more than China.
But it is only the latter example that actually appears in the film, if not. . .
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