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Parents' Guide to

The Big Scary "S" Word

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Well-organized, hopeful docu dispels fears about socialism.

Movie NR 2021 83 minutes
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This documentary is a hopeful, easy-to-grasp primer on that old trigger word "socialism." The movie's thesis is supported by an impressive roster of scholars, offering clear examples of how socialism can work. The Big Scary "S" Word realizes that, while most of us have heard the word "socialism," far fewer can explain exactly what it is or offer legitimate reasons for why anyone should be afraid of it. Societies that share and help each other generally do better as a whole, but, as the movie explains, capitalism -- the entrenched economic and political philosophy of the United States -- evolved when a few people began acquiring more wealth and turning that wealth into power, while almost everyone else became workers with little voice (or choice).

The positive aspects of socialism are presented as ways to make everyone's lives better, the most basic of which is the right to a living wage, or, as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says, "no person in America should be too poor to live." The movie's examples are concrete and varied, and the array of featured professors (from Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, NYU, etc.) and authors -- including the always fascinating Cornel West -- lend the film credibility and trustworthiness. Director Bridge keeps things moving in easily digestible sections, makes sure the tone stays optimistic, and gets out at 82 minutes. Hopefully, The Big Scary "S" Word will open a few minds and make people question the scare tactics that have been used to manipulate them.

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