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Cevin Soling Goes To War For The Kids
Friday, November 13, 2009

The kids aren’t alright. It’s not just a song by The Offspring, it’s a reality that filmmaker Cevin Soling has documented with his latest project, The War on Kids, which will be making its theatrical debut on Nov. 18th in NYC. The film takes a look at the way America has turned into an anti-kid nation and the extremes to which the country is going to control the youth. In addition to getting this film to the public, Soling is also currently working on a masters in Philosophy at Harvard, his band, The Love Kills Theory, has a song in the upcoming Suicide Girls film, his third book in the Rumpleville Chronicles, The Bomb That Followed Me Home, received rave reviews, and he even petitioned the State Department to become a foreign service officer and passed all the tests. This week I caught up with the very busy Soling to learn more about The War on Kids, what inspired him to cover America’s treatment of its youth, and his next three, yes, three upcoming films, one of which is ties Gilligan’s Island with communism.

Adam Bernard: Let’s get right to The War on Kids. What were some of the hurdles you expected to encounter in filming this documentary and how many of them did you end up actually having to deal with?
Cevin Soling: When I set out to make the film I planned on doing something indicting the baby boomer generation, because at one point in time they had fought for a whole bunch of civil rights and liberties, and no one has gone so far to take all those rights away with such a vengeance as that generation has. I expected that it would be fairly easy to get people to talk about that because it is self-evident, but most of the people I was interviewing were part of the baby boomer generation, the academics and the experts, and there is something in academia, or in that group, where it isn’t appropriate to target a generic group. They’re generally much more specific when it comes to targeting either individuals or a system. Groups are pretty nebulous. There was one exception and that was Michael Males, who was a baby boomer and is the author of The Scapegoat Generation, as well as a number of other excellent books. He loves digging into statistics and is very responsible about always trying to figure out what’s going on behind them rather than taking everything at face value.

Adam Bernard: So, how did the treatment of kids become the focal point of the film?
Cevin Soling: There’s the statement that we do everything for the kids, and the next generation, when in fact the disregard for children, I don’t think, has ever reached this level in the history of America. There are all sorts of movements to restrict kids from public spaces. You see housing communities where they don’t allow kids. You have restaurants and hotels that actively have bans. Pretty much every single community has curfews in place. They aren’t typically enforced, but they could be, and certainly with the anti-rave act you have all sorts of legal prohibitions that are actively enforced on general assembly, because groups of kids are feared.

Adam Bernard: Why do you think there are so many anti-kid rules and laws?
Cevin Soling: Because kids don’t vote, so it’s easy to disregard that portion of your constituency, which really isn’t your constituency as far as from a political basis. There’s also pervasive fear and hatred of kids in the media. It’s become sort of salacious and part of the whole entertainment media to demonize kids and make it seem like all the evils of culture are the faults of kids when that simply isn’t true. One of the things Michael Males brings up is the drug problem. When anyone thinks of problems with drugs they presume that’s a youth problem when in fact the numbers show that the segment of the population that’s abusing drugs the least are kids. The whole “get tough” approach to kids, all of that is just part of the fabric of American society and it really got much worse and was compounded by the rise of the pharmaceutical industry, which has basically turned childhood into a pathology.

Adam Bernard: There was a big section of your film about prescription drugs. Back when I was in school they weren’t prescribing things at the rate they are now. If you were acting up in class you had to stop eating sugary food.
Cevin Soling: {laughs} Yeah. In class it’s a normal healthy response in most situations. It’s unnatural to be restricted for eight hours a day and be shuffled from room to room and be sitting without any stimulus in a classroom where you’re not permitted to speak and you’re not permitted to stand up and socialize and move around. It’s just a very sick environment and to force people to fit into those environments is twisted and then to do it with drugs is even more sadistic.

Adam Bernard: With The War on Kids coming out, grad school, government possibilities, your band, and your books, it sounds like you really are the busiest man on earth.
Cevin Soling: Yeah, on top of that there are two other films that are being edited right now. There’s the Uganda documentary (on the Ik tribe). By February that film should be in the can. Then there’s also the Vanuatu one. That’s about the tribe that worships America.

Adam Bernard: There’s a tribe that worships America?
Cevin Soling: Yeah. It was a series of about 83 islands that were claimed by both France and England, but because it was so remote neither one of them fought for sole possession. They ruled it by co-op, which meant that neither one would really be responsible, but they would send their missionaries there, and their missionaries were pretty harsh and brutal. The US came on the scene during WWII. The island of Santo was used as the headquarters for the whole southeastern operation and the Americans had recruited local natives to help build the infrastructure. Unlike the Europeans, the Americans treated the people with respect. They had no desire to interfere with their native practices and convert them. They routinely offered medical care to anyone who wanted, or needed, it. Even though the regiments were segregated the natives saw black officers and blacks in control and that was certainly something they wouldn’t see among Europeans. The tribe really got the right message and we really lived up to the ideals that we like to claim that we believe in, and it was rightly inspired. It wasn’t based on propaganda, it was based on respect and nobility.

Adam Bernard: Finally, what’s this I hear about a Gilligan’s Island documentary that you’re working on?
Cevin Soling: I contend that Gilligan’s Island was probably the most radical program ever to be on American airwaves when one considers the context of the time. It first aired in 1964 and the Cuban Missile Crisis took place not long before then. (Joseph) McCarthy had been censured, but there was still a fear of communism, and here you have this program that depicts seven Americans stranded in this metaphorically post holocaust world and the government they create is a communist government. Conflict happens when some vestige of capitalism emerges and threatens to destroy the serenity of their world.

Related Links

Website: cevinsoling.com
The War on Kids: thewaronkids.com
Rumpleville: rumpleville.com


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:05 AM  
  • At 12:21 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Congrats to Cevin for his appearance on The Colbert Report last night (11/30)!

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