For a site that began with a man talking about his trip to the Zoo, Youtube has evolved into something much bigger in the past half a decade – in terms of viewer numbers and in what it’s used for. We’ve seen everything from drugged up kids after the dentist, to hoards of cat videos; but also those with a political protest in mind. Often this latter group focuses on dissidents in country’s with restrictive regimes and depending on your point of view, that could be the case with this latest political film too.
Breaking The Taboo, is a film by Richard Branson’s son, Sam Branson, about opening up the debate on drug policy the world over. Teaming up with a heap of well known individuals, including Morgan Freeman – as narrator of course – and Sting, heavy political hitters like ex American Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and several nobel prize winners, the Branson dream is to make it ok for politicians to openly discuss drug laws in a real way, not hiding behind the “war on drugs,” which everyone involved with the film claims is doing far more harm than good.
According to the documentary, many politicians currently in power consider the prohibition of drugs to be a failure, but are too afraid to say anything lest it affect their current employment. With the recent trends of cannabis legalisation in Washington and Colorado, Breaking the Taboo is hoping to climb aboard the wave of acceptance by making drugs a topic that can be discussed without hysteria.
Building up to the release of the film this morning, Youtube clips have been appearing from prominent celebrities, many of them British, on how they were “breaking the taboo.” Twitter accounts from the likes of Lord Sugar and Garry Barlow have also been tweeting their support.
However beyond simply advertising the film through Youtube, Sundog Pictures, the company behind the making of it, is distributing it solely through the streaming video site, with the hope that Youtube’s global reach will enable many more people to see it than if it was simply released on TV or in cinemas. However it was specifically formatted to be in line with traditional TV viewing lengths on services like iPlayer and Hulu, coming in at just under an hour.
Wired went to the premier and asked Johnny Webb, the MD of Sundog Pictures, what sort of impact he felt the film could have. “With prohibition [of alcohol], it only took five states for the whole thing to collapse from within. My hope is that we get enough traction on the petition to get to the UN in January to say change policies and allow South America, which has had the most social harm, to act within international law, because then I think they will drive change, certainly within the western world.”
KitGuru Says: Whatever your view on the subject matter, it’s interesting to see services like Youtube becoming such important platforms for world views. This sort of topic is one that people usually tread on eggshells when discussing, so perhaps Youtube can help offer a more open forum for these sorts of messages.