Foreign Policy Blogs

The Listening Project (2008)

Four Americans traveled to 14 countries to find out what ordinary people think of the United States.
The responses were predictable: most professed admiration for Americans but vehemently disliked the United States government.
There were few surprises in this documentary, which was filmed in “pre-Obama” time.

The more touching scenes involve an Afghan woman who lost family members due to a misguided U.S. bomb.
The filmmakers do a fine job of hopping from place to place, from the streets of Shanghai to an impoverished suburb of Kabul.
But maybe this film would have been better if they lingered a bit in the places they visited. The man-on-the-street approach can only go so far.
What is missing in many places is putting together the relationship the United States has had with that particular country or culture. There’s no perspective.
That being said, there is some time used to see why so many immigrants want to come to the United States even as they blame it in part for their nations’ poverty. America extends a helping hand while at the same time slaps the people it hopes to help.

The Listening Project (2008)One thing this film shows is how the United States uses so-called “soft power” when it comes to assimilating the world into American culture. American clothes, music, technology – all of it is desired by most people in the rest of the world.
This movie doesn’t need to be seen as its conclusions are obvious. File it under, “To watch when I have 76 minutes to kill.”
The Listening Project is available to rent.
Murphy can be reached at: [email protected]



Sean Patrick Murphy

Sean Patrick Murphy is a graduate of Bennington College, where he majored in politics and Latin American literature. He has worked for Current History magazine, Physicians for Human Rights, and Citizens for Global Solutions (formerly the World Federalist Association). He lives outside Philadelphia.

Areas of Focus:
Cinematography; Independent Films; Documentary;