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a/perture cinema, the Official Movie Sponsor of The Less Desirables, presents The Less Desirables Movie of the Week, Freakonomics (2010).

Per IMDb: “A collection of documentaries that explores the hidden side of human nature through the use of the science of economics. “freakonomics_film

The film touches on the economics of practically everything. Economics in both the financial sense and in the common sense sense. The initial bridge piece is about whether your real estate agent is really working for you or working against you. Basically, it’s a matter of incentives.

There’s four mini docs in this film overall…

1 – A Roshanda By Any Other Name : Morgan Spurlock produces and narrates this segment. It’s an investigation of the possible correlation to someone’s name, especially “white” vs. “black” names, to the person with the name’s personal development and social advancement. Does someone named Shaniqua get as many opportunities as someone named Brittany? Or if you have one person named Ryan and one named Tyrone, but each have the exact same resume, which is going to get that job? That’s how it is today and that’s sad. I don’t believe in racial prospecting or the whole affirmative action thing. If you are qualified for a position and are the top candidate you get that job, regardless of what your name is, what your skin tone is. And, male or female, I believe you get paid on scale to what is fair for the position. A woman should make as much as a man if it is a value for value system.

2 – Pure Corruption : A report on what the Japanese call yaochō (fixing the actual matches) in Sumo wrestling. How they do it to keep each other in a competitive bracket or how they do it to advance themselves. It leads to big business and the wrestlers themselves are compensated well for taking the fall. But, what happens when someone tries to rat them out? It’s not warm and fuzzies, I can assure you.

3 – It’s Not Always A Wonderful Life : Narrated by Melvin Van Peebles. The mini-doc focuses on several factors that many politicians and police organizations want you to believe happened to lead to lower overall crime rates in the mid- to late 1990s. Was it increased police presence? Was it a war on crime? Could it be the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade? The film suggests that with legalized abortion, it was easier and cheaper for people to get them and this led to more wanted children with better upbringings and better opportunities. I believe the film makes a good case for it, but I’m not sure I buy into it 100%.

4 – Can You Bribe A 9th Grader To Succeed? : One Chicago school system tests the merits of students by offering them actual money incentives for doing well is school. It’s funded by the local University and follows two different 9th graders in the incentive program. One continues to be sorry and is more worried about his personal life and another struggles with the grades, even while busting butt to do his best. In the end, the sorry one said he could just go to the military and take his chances there. The other good kid gets better grades and learns a few things. I suppose it was a byproduct of necessity. You have to pay attention and do work to get better grades that will in turn earn you the money, so it rubs off on you.

Overall, I think a good bit of the film was entertaining but there were parts that were pushed. It was a good thinking, but how accurate was it? Well, it’s coming from an economist and they wouldn’t skew any data would they? Nah. I really don’t know if it’s accurate or if it was a “just sayin'” moment, but I found the film an interesting watch. It’s not riveting stuff and it’s not going to be moving you, but interesting. If you have 90 minutes to kill, that’s when you should watch it.

Rotten Tomatoes has it at 65% Fresh with an Audience score of only 51%. IMDb has it at 6.4 stars out of 10. Neither are fantastic but both are better than average. I don’t know how I feel about it other than just something to watch. I watched it on Netflix and will rate it 3 stars out of 5.

Have you seen it? What did you think? What would you like to see/hear me review?

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!

“The closest thing to a worldview, I would say, in “Freakonomics,” is that incentives matter. Not just financial incentives, but social incentives and moral incentives.” – Steven D. Levitt (author of Freakonomics, the book)