Tuesday, June 03, 2008

30 Days (Fox): Morgan Spurlock becomes a coal miner

Today, the first of a cable series from Warrior Poets and Morgan Spurlock, “30 Days” aired. And this one was about a most critical element of our karma: our dependence on the risky labor of others to support our lifestyles.

Morgan Spurlock leaves his wife and baby in a brownstone in Brooklyn to drive back to his native West Virginia, to spend 30 days working in an underground coal mine as an apprentice miner, to "pay his dues". He will shovel coal onto a conveyer – backbreaking work, and plaster coal walls to improve ventilations. He gets checked for black lung disease and is checked again after 30 days. A coworker tests positive for black lung. (Remember that in “Supersize Me” he became fat and terribly unhealthy according to medical tests after a fast food diet.) The show did make something of the fact that many boys raised there don’t get a chance to go to college and “escape” like Morgan did (to make movies).

The show also shows breathtaking shots of the Bryce mine in southern West Virginia. It is hard to reach from public roads but has been shown in Newsweek. The landscape had been chewed up into 200-foot carved ridges and plateaus. I have seen the open pit iron mines in Hibbing MN, the Anaconda copper mine near Butte Montana, an asbestos mine in Quebec, and I was almost arrested for trespassing on strip mine near Mt. Storm W VA (in the northern part of the state) in 1971. I wrote about mountaintop removal (discussed in the show) on the issues log in April, link here (check the label).

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