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Film review: 'Global Haywire'

By Karl Fitzgerald - posted Friday, 11 April 2008

Global Haywire is a cunning film about the evolution of man and the politico-economic power structures concocted to divide and conquer. Yes! Finally a cutting edge film on globalisation that sums up the exasperations of the social justice movement.

Infamous Australian cartoonist Bruce Petty is the writer-director and uses his artistic license to sum up moments in time with a masterful stroke of his brush. Bruce Petty does this in spades with his trademark scribbly cartoons, billowing a breath of fresh air into the documentary format. Complementing his art is absurdist dialogue, a contemporary soundtrack and interviews with all-star intellectuals.

Petty’s doodling cartoons inspire the senses as they zoom across the screen, keeping viewers on their toes and challenging the audience to lift their intensity. It is rewarding to be challenged by a documentary that hits you with simultaneous issues, forcing our thought patterns to speed up in accordance with the tidal wave of torments rising on the horizon.


Quotes from the leading critics of west hegemony are pinpointed throughout the script. "A dictatorship of vested interests” chimes Monbiot. “The excess of democracy" warns Chomsky on the dangers the privileged face from genuine democracy. Gore Vidal snipes at how the US has established a "Global Empire whilst we've simultaneously stopped teaching geography".

Another refreshing aspect is the interview with many young students from Lebanon, Egypt, Sierra Leone, M.I.T and the London School of Economics, given centre stage to discuss the problems and provide solutions. It would have been nice to hear from a few Aussie students though.

The harrowing issues surrounding poverty are tactfully analysed through a fictional inventor, who has a penchant for designing machines that don’t work. These machine-based analogies help unfold the mass confusion in a manner that reciprocates the modern rush, rush mantra.

Vince's machines paraphrase the real life gadgets that Petty has exhibited in documentaries and art fairs throughout his career. These have included a Money Machine, a Law Machine and an Ecology Machine. The bells and whistles incorporated in these contraptions have leakages affecting the community, translating the real life costs rarely discussed by policymakers.

Beyond the typical critique of the Washington Consensus, Petty looks into the eyes of the Enlightenment and asks if we’ve stuffed it up. The development of systems and statehood, rationality and reason have been distorted. The multitude of inventions, the white goods revolution, computing and bio-technology have done little to reduce the plight of the poor.

It’s the fast paced nature of the film that gets you in. Senator Lyn Allison says that it takes two or three viewings to decipher the layers. I certainly agree having seen it three times. The film gives simultaneous nods to both literary and theoretical critiques of human behaviour as images crisscross the screen while voices split between the left and right speakers conducting competing conversations on social justice issues. Global haywire indeed!


Social Darwinism, feminism and classical arts are all referenced. The division between West and East are central pillars to the plot, discussed through the prism of religion, post World War II geographical borders and resource wars. The danger of this trend sets the stage for some classic Petty satire. “The South wants freedom, so the North inserts deregulation.”

Petty has the gumption to ask whether the generations of inequity between North and South, East and West may have more to do with the rise of terrorism than religion. One deft cartoon has a jailed citizen with a banner flashing “terrorist” then “freedom fighter”.

On the politico-economic system, Petty quipped at the film premiere that “It’s going to alter radically, so we might as well shape it in our views”. The film delivers a damaging overview of the history of man, giving us the perspective to study the topics covered so we can move forward to a new period of Re-Enlightenment, one where the people’s best interests are genuinely represented.

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Global Haywire opened yesterday April 10th at Kino Dendy in Melbourne.

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About the Author

Karl Fitzgerald is the Projects Coordinator for Earthsharing Australia.

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