Film screening, wealth discussion hosted by Democracy Matters

Despite the decrease in media attention, the Occupy Movement is far from over. On Monday, Feb. 20, the Geneseo chapter of Democracy Matters held a film screening in Newton Hall to prompt discussion of America's current wealth distribution.

They screened The One Percent, a 2006 documentary created by Jamie Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune. Johnson explored the growing wealth gap in American economics, using his family's connections to secure interviews with economists, politicians and other members of billion-dollar families.     

Following the movie, Democracy Matters invited everyone to stay and engage in a candid conversation about the film and its message. Among the first comments was a general consensus of shock at some of the statistics in the documentary. One of the more glaring statistics claimed that 1 percent of the United States population owns about 40 percent of the wealth.

Junior Kevin Castañeda, a member of both Democracy Matters and the Occupy Geneseo movement, helped out facilitating the event.

"What the movie illuminated for me was how severely these people's worldviews are changed because of their wealth," said Castañeda. "They really don't see the bad things about the world in general – don't seem to care about the gap between themselves and poverty."

This sentiment was audibly shared by others who attended the screening who provided concrete examples of what Johnson's family demonstrated in the film.

"If anything, they actually think they're helping things, by creating jobs," said Castañeda.

"They don't see anything they might be doing wrong." In one scene, Johnson's father blatantly avoids giving an opinion on American poverty.

The conversation naturally led to a discussion of the Occupy Movement that has been pushing along steadily since last summer.

Students at the screening pointed out that although anger has accompanied the truths about America's wealth distribution, these movements merely seek to promote discussion on the topic.

"Between now and next November is the best time we have to increase people's awareness across campus," said junior Josh Kent, also a member of both organizations. "Since the election is coming up, people on this campus are going to be more politically aware anyway, so we really have a prime opportunity to educate our peers."