Squat the Rich is a short documentary following ANAL (Autonomous Nation Of Anarchist Libertarians) as they take the viewer on a squat tour.
Vice covered the story of Tom Fox (“Tom Fox | Facebook”, 2017) and co. in a very stripped down way. They presented the problem, presented those affected by it, those trying to solve it and then those who have been helped. However, after doing some digging online, I found the main theme of the story doesn’t change but is bigger than we could have seen in the 6-minute runtime.
This documentary speaks out on a national issue. A letter dated the 20th February 2017 was sent to Baroness Grender highlighting how the government is using misleading statistics about homelessness in the UK. She said, “It is time to stop spinning the statistics and start solving the problem” (Fenton, 2017). Vice founder Shane Smith envisioned Vice becoming “the voice of the angry youth” (Adams, 2013), and with a topic sure to spark anger at the establishment packaged in a short shareable video, he has achieved his ambition in this respect.
Tom Fox explains why ANAL do what they do but not much more. We hear what ANAL stands for as an acronym and we get the core of helping the homeless, but who is Tom? He covers his face on camera so I can only presume he wanted to protect his easily findable identity. We hear from Grant, a rough sleeper ANAL has helped. But where is the rest of ANAL? The Architect who studied for £52000 a year and is deciding to squat is nowhere to be seen (Parker, 2017).
I think the documentary is only a positive piece spreading a positive message, but I believe taking the extra time to show those choosing to live this way and choosing to help could have emphasized that the system is truly broken. Also wearing masks suggests guilt, this may have been out of Vice’s control but considering Tom has a very active and public Facebook, it also suggests stupidity.
Vice ran a story, days before the documentary launched, on ANAL which at the bottom states, “Names have been changed to protect the identities of squatters” (Broomfield, 2017). Ethical standards are important to maintain but when the ring leader doesn’t seem to care, what’s the point?
Adams, T. (2013). Shane Smith: ‘I want to build the next CNN with Vice – it’s within my grasp’. the Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/mar/23/shane-smith-vice-interview
Broomfield, M. (2017). Resisting Eviction with London’s Anti-Capitalist Squatters – VICE. Vice. Retrieved 26 February 2017, from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/resisting-eviction-with-londons-anti-capitalist-squatters
Fenton, S. (2017). Government warned to stop using ‘misleading’ homelessness figures. The Independent. Retrieved 26 February 2017, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/homelessness-figures-government-misleading-halved-uk-statistics-authority-watchdog-a7592956.html
Parker, R. (2017). Squatters’ £25million mansion is owned by Duke of Westminster. Mail Online. Retrieved 26 February 2017, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4184160/Squatters-25m-mansion-owned-Duke-Westminster.html
Tom Fox | Facebook. (2017). Facebook.com. Retrieved 26 February 2017, from https://www.facebook.com/tomfox23?fref=nf