Escape! From the Cult of Materialism

Escape! From the Cult of Materialism

2016, Society  -   37 Comments
Ratings: 8.13/10 from 302 users.

In the western world, the accumulation of wealth has become the ultimate symbol of success. According to the new documentary Escape! From the Cult of Materialism, this unquenchable thirst for more has made slaves of us all, and suppressed the most basic human virtues of decency, solidarity and compassion. A mosaic of inventively edited stock footage, animations and clips from various popular films, this enlightening documentary provides a brief but sweeping overview of materialism's origins, and its continued clutch on society today.

It all starts with simple desire. The drive to attain greater resources is understandable from a survivalist's perspective; after all, more sophisticated tools allow us better access to food and protection from nature's harshest elements. But over the years, this need has been manipulated by the corporatized machine of materialism. We no longer know where our food is coming from, and that impersonal relationship is making us sick and weakening our once harmonious relationship with the environment.

We purchase goods and services that don't nourish us, and produce an endless stream of pollution-inducing waste as a result. Our children die in wars that fatten the wallets of big industry. Even in the face of the 9/11 tragedy, Americans were urged by their president to respond by going shopping. Marketing is the platform for mass seduction, and we're entranced by its central message that possessions increase our personal value and social status.

The film argues that materialism's influence is all-consuming and unsustainable. The United States contains 5% of the world's population, but uses 25% of the Earth's resources. What will become of the planet when more populated countries like China and India begin to produce and consume at this scale?

In addition to illustrating the destructive brainwashing tactics of modern consumerism, the film also offers practical steps we can take to curb its ongoing dominance in our daily lives. These include a renewed reliance on local farmers and craftspeople, limiting our exposure to mass media, and banning the swarms of advertising from the vicinity of our schools.

Handsomely assembled and narrated with articulate insight, Escape! From the Cult of Materialism is an intelligent and thought-provoking film.

More great documentaries

37 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Zian

    Earn enough and buy what you need . Don't listen to any self help or any documentary .Only loosers try to find validation on other peoples word . Do your best and ignore anyone who isn't living with you . Remove all old people from your life including parents .

  2. Don M

    There are some real "dufus" comments here that only mirror the basics in ignorance.
    It's a plain fact that the attitude of "more stuff" is rampant today. The point is, what will we as a society do about it? If you feel that you need the nicest lawn on the street, the flashiest car or the biggest house to feel like you are impressing somebody, or that you've accomplished something then you, and anyone who looks up to that is the problem.
    Also, the term "yuppie" was not created out of a lack of new generational terminology.
    It was coined because of the yes sir, no sir, jump how high sir, I can do that sir attitude, "while caring less about consequences as long as it benefits ME".
    That generation is surely not solely to blame...but it surely escalated there.
    We all are to blame, they learned it from generations before them, as we all did.

  3. john

    hardly a documentary.. its repetition on the same points over and over again

  4. Gavin

    Although it makes very true points its hardly a documentary. Just a series of film and news clips.

  5. Ken

    Can someone tell me the song playing at 10:08? I've heard it many times but, for the life of me, just can't remember the name of it, or who plays it. I looked at the credits with no luck. Thank you.

  6. Gary

    This documentary details the "illness" going on in the west... but have you bothered to take a good look at our friends in China? LOL.. These people have straight lost the plot on consumerism...its like a new disease to these people... They are WELL on there way to surpassing us... dont even try and dispute that one... Most Chinese are typically "new money"..and new money brings ALOT of similar social hangups... The Chinese are losing there minds with materialism...

  7. Barrie A Featherstone

    This documentary summed up my thoughts on life completely. It took me 60 years of life experience and 20 years of serious study on the human condition to arrive there. My hope is that all Millennias will watch this. And then act, before its too late.

    1. grant

      I love how you say "all new millenias" as if they are the source of the problem. The most materialistic generation without a doubt are the baby boomers. The ones that are destroying healthcare because they were too busy working for "things" they didn't need instead of taking care of their health. Things will start to improve once your generation dies off.

    2. Lana


      it's easy to blame others and wish them death.
      But it ain't just the babyboomer that are at fault. It's humanity that is.

      i hope we all die soon then? :> xx

      Excuse my grammar, English isn't my native language and i'm kinda tired >_<

  8. Lyanna

    This film was amazing! a masterpiece if you will.. I mean, you can call it a wake up call to humanity :)

  9. Gerrad

    They confuse philosophical materialism as opposed to idealism with materialism in the sociological sense, being, the valuing material possessions. Two completely different concepts that happen to use the same term. Therefore, anything else in this 'film' however intuitively valid is likely based on misunderstanding or at worst, falsification. I'm not defending materialism, by which I mean consumerism, it is pernicious and ridiculous. But so is this 'film'.

    1. Gary

      loads and loads of word salad here... thanks for playing... this is what happens when you move out of mom's house late and you REALLY miss her "Your SOOOO smart Gerrard" talks...

    2. Lana

      What do you recommend to watch ?

  10. Zero Trans Fats

    The guy shopping to celebrate was buying groceries... Is he getting flack for not growing his own food?
    The nature photographer was shooting with thousands of dollars in telephoto lens and camera equipment, after flying/driving to that locale.
    If concern for nature goes down as materialism goes up, how do you justify the purchase of recreational toys? Safety advances in sport leading to purchase of safer equipment?
    In the abscence of engineering advancement, consumerism is an accurate description.
    Next time you go mountain biking on a 1970's 10 speed with 23c tires, crash and opt to save money on a helicopter evac with a 3 day ride out laying sideways on the back of a mule? they try to give you an MRI with an upcycled refrigerator mated to a paper film camera, but someone goes for leftovers during your imaging and ruins the prints.

  11. Iwona

    Right film for right people. I'm in the minority and I'm proud of it <3 Well done !

  12. Nashvillain

    What a sophomoric description of the world by an obvious atheist and Marxist. This is nothing but the same propaganda that Edward Bernays used.

    1. David Dieini

      Do you mean he is not an infantile fool that worships a skygod?

  13. Chris

    @Claudino- I believe it's called An Ending (Ascent) by Brian Eno

  14. Claudino

    Amazing piece of work! Two thumbs up! - Does anyone know the name of the music track appearing approximately at minute 41:20 in the documentary?

  15. Michelle

    When Michael Jackson wrote 'Man in the mirror.'
    The 'mirror' was of metaphorical origin.

  16. Dave

    I do think materialism and consumerism is a problem, and I do think truth should be spoken - but I think documentaries such as this one tend to embellish the truth (for shock value), which in turn leads to excessive equivocation and a propaganda technique known as "anchoring".

    If activists,etc want to be taken seriously they have to stop using the same techniques as the people/organizations/system they are tring to expose.

  17. Evilpilli

    I was bugged by this as well, but it turns out that there is such a thing called Economic Materialism, which fits the movie well, however Consumerism fits the bill even better, and I sent them a mail imploring them to consider changing the script, since it's a unfortunate potential source of miscommunication and misunderstanding.

  18. Lyn

    Excellent documentary. Everyone should watch this.

  19. Russ

    Materialism is a clearly defined philosophical term, which has nothing to do with consumerism, the term you probably mean. I advise you to read some philosophy from Hegel, Marx and others if you want to be taken seriously.

  20. nightowl

    Reza, could it be that your problem of how "to control own self" begins with your thinking that a particular house or car is "better" than yours? For example, if you and your friend's car both serve their transport function equally well, would you regard your friend's car "better" if it cost more? ...or was bigger? ...or newer?..or reached 100 km/h more quickly? Why, why any of these things?

  21. BigB

    I think this is an extremely well done video that really gets at the truth of what's happened, and is still happening, in the USA. Probably only those who love greed will dislike this. Those of us who have raised our heads up out of the sand long enough to do some critical thinking will recognize the truth of it.

  22. Reza Hossain

    All understood, but to control own self. When friends drive better car or have better home how to control?

  23. Mani the point that living with fundamental needs and use the money and time for relationships, nature. Better than loans and rat race. Thanks

  24. Tony Vei

    A Good to book read is 'The Undiscovered Self' by Carl G. Jung, it's an easy 113 page read with complementary parallel lines, --- Salute, Very Good!

  25. Phil Smyth

    Great comment and name Joe Blow have a drag on me ha

  26. Joe Blow

    I really enjoyed watching this on my 100 inch tv!!!

  27. robby

    well done. it does seem (and the math agrees) that we are all an endless nothing, makes sense that we would create this reality just to pass the time, and that it is really all just an illusion.

  28. Oliver B Koslik

    The application of emotional intelligence is of the utmost importance towards transition.

  29. mike m

    Only change needed to make a big turn around is to remove personhood from the corporate charters. What if a person lived forever and was ever growing richer? He, or she, would soon become more influential than you can imagine, huh?
    Well, that's what you got now.
    Just take away personhood, just that, and all would start to become manageable very quickly. Only those with too much college education would not see this.
    A corporation is not a person. It is a charter, a piece of paper. To call it a person seems, to me, blasphemous. It now has the right to give money to elections. Think about it!
    They say you can take away all the money from the rich and spread it evenly and soon they would get it all back because of their way of thinking. Well, then what's the worry? Take away personhood from something that's not and there will be no sweat!
    They will be fine and will prosper. Probably better than they are now because they would answer to the customer and government and become better citizens and be trusted.

  30. OSP

    wow. this is some dumbed down patronizing sh!t right here. duh?

  31. bremp

    like it! :)

  32. Jacob

    This documentary was hilarious! 10/10.