Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Freedom #1

"That's not freedom. That's oppression!"

My sister's words - used to describe the shopping frenzy in some Yorkshire's towns and cities in the run up to Christmas. She was making the point that people put themselves through hell to complete their Christmas shopping on time - they feel compelled to do it. And if people feel compelled to do something (and most of us feel this at Christmas, despite our better judgement), is it indicative of an oppressive system or a free state?

I agree with my sister. Why would we choose to buy something for £20 on Christmas Eve that would be available for £10 on Boxing Day? And of greater value than money, why would people spend so much time traipsing around the shops? Do we do it for the love of our friends and family, or for another reason? We all know that Christmas is over-commercialised and an anti-climax. Yet we repeat the cycle each year - and I don't think that's freedom, it's much more like oppression.

For about three years, I've been working on a documentary about East Germany - the DDR (Deutsche Demokratik Republik). The DDR was an oppressive state that ceased to exist after German re-unification in 1990. I spoke to lots of people who lived in the DDR and asked them what life was like. I've also read and researched as much as I can about this subject. There were lots of restrictions for DDR citizens, the most famous being restrictions on travel - the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie etc. But as I learned more about life in the DDR, I found myself asking awkward questions of life under our current system. And these questions form the basis of the Freedom Series.

Let's hope I get round to writing enough of them to constitute a series...

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