Annie Leonard – Story of Stuff misrepresentations

Wow. That’s the word I am left with when I listened to Annie Leonard. The amount of things that she gets completely wrong with her Story of Stuff is amazing. And to think that this is targeted towards kids. It’s insulting.

I bet most of my readers have never heard about the Story of Stuff. Which makes sense since it cannot hold up to critique. But I bet that many of my readers are also unaware that some schools use this as a teaching tool.

Here is what Annie Leonard (with help from the TIDES Foundation – one of the few groups that is listed as supporting this video, most others are on hidden lists you need to search to confirm involvement.) says at the start of her video

Starting at 1:51 – 2:02 we start with America being a militaristic nation. How is that for a message for kids? Don’t mind the lie that 50% of our budget goes to the military (actually it’s more like 20%). And it just keeps going on with the America bashing. We are responsible for the Third World’s condition. We are destroying all the resources of the world. We are creating almost all the pollution in the world. We are enslaving the world. And on and on.

Anne Leonard starts this whole thing with the statement that she has spent decades traveling the world, but I have to wonder if she opened her eyes while she was on the trip. Better yet, where around the world did she go, and who with. Because it seems like she was on a trip with Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Osama Bin Laden.

Though another question that might be asked, and is not answered is how qualified is Leonard? She went to Barnard College (never mentions what she got a degree in) and Cornell University – where she was doing graduate work, but never mentions an actual degree. So what exactly does Leonard know? Is she an expert at anything besides America bashing?

How bad is this? Well besides the America bashing, which is constant, there are numerous facts that are just wildly wrong. And that does not consider the context of other “facts” either misunderstood or misrepresented in this video.


“..we have less than 4% of our original forests left”

Well worded. Because the fact is that while almost all the ORIGINAL trees can be said to have been cut down over centuries in our nation, we REPLANTED trees. We are still replanting trees today. Because if we didn’t wood would be a scare commodity and the price for a 2×4 would be exponentially higher. But to be honest about that defeats the alarmist tone Leonard wants to hit.


“Forty percent of waterways in the US have become undrinkable.”

Well again it’s not exactly true. It’s 40% that have become unfishable, unswimable, OR undrinkable. That fact is in the fact sheet she provides on her own site. So the actual number is smaller, by quite a bit. And that says nothing of the reservoirs across the nation.

“Only a handful of synthetic chemicals have even been tested for human health impacts and NONE have been tested for synergistic health impacts”

Again from her own fact sheet, the actual number not quoted is “more than 80,000” and of that number 15,000 have been tested. Which means that just under 20% have been tested. Which I would not call “a handful”. Though her phrasing does make it sound desperate.

“We each see more advertisements in one year than a people 50 years ago saw in a lifetime.”

There is no question that is true (though badly worded). Because there are more televisions today than 50 years ago. There are exponentially more channels than then (there were 3, now there are over 500). Which does not factor in the number of people increased since then; nor the fact that the internet and many mobile devices allow advertisements as well.

But the most insane part of this video may well be the one of the first things said by Leonard. Starting at 2:03 – 2:15

“…I hold true to the vision and values of the Government should be of the people,by the people, for the people. It’s the Government’s job to watch out for us, to take care of us, that’s their job.”

Did you catch that? “to take care of us” is the key there. No it is NOT the job of the Government to “tale care of us”. It does not say that ANYWHERE in the Constitution. I dare Annie Leonard, and any of her like-minded supporters to find that in the Constitution.

Many far-left radicals would like the Government to be in charge of our lives. It falls completely into the thinking many Liberals have today that the Government is smarter than you and I. That it is better at deciding everything for us. Even in the face of facts that prove the Government has NEVER been better in deciding ANYTHING than individuals in this nation.

How long has the budget been in deficit? How much is the deficit? Is Medicare and Social Security going bankrupt? How much more money does the Post Office need to run? Can you name a single department or Agency of the Government that costs less money or runs more efficiently that the year prior in the last 4 decades I have been alive?

But Annie Leonard wants to convince kids, whom this is targeted towards, that the Government is the answer to everything. They want to have these kids growing up believing that a Government where they are not free to choose is better. Which I do not define as democratic or American.

Though I am sure that Leonard got to see countries like that, as I did when I lived overseas. I think the former USSR is a better example of that kind of Government. And if you think Communism or Socialism are great just ask people from there how fun it was to wait on 8 hour long lines to go to the only McDonald’s in the nation (opened only as the country was becoming more free). Ask how much fun it was to drive cars that were just as likely to burst into flames as start. I’m not making this up, I lived these and other experiences. Sorry, I’m not an advocate.

But it does tell us why all the rest of the video, which does have a couple of points where things could be better, is geared to create America-hating Americans.

And let me remind you that this is something being taught to some kids in schools. And with the book of this collection of lies, misrepresentations, and falsified facts being released in 2010 it will be just in time for the mid-term elections. I bet it might even be part of the curriculum in more schools across the nation.

Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Kind of like being nauseated.

Rating 3.00 out of 5


  1. Considering the video, and all the things I had to say, is that the best you could say about the post?

    And to answer your question, no. I do not subscribe to any newsletters of anyone.

  2. Comment as found at Breaking News Blog, where I am a contributing author.

    jenny Says:
    November 30th, 2009 at 6:41 pm e
    THANK YOU!! AWSOME AND those people are nut jobs! awsome for writing this article, i have to write a paper on her and her crazy video and the whole a time i was watching it my jaw was just dropped open and i couldnt believe the crap she was using to brainwash these kids, and the worst part is most of them bought into it
    it was horrible! i will make sure to use many of your points in my paper, its great!

  3. I’d be interested in seeing your evidence base for why you believe this information to be false and why you believe this to be anti-American propaganda.

    The fact of the matter is, a lot of the statistics Leonard provides have gotten worse since the production of this video. Case and point, we are now up to 55% of US rivers and streams that are deemed to be in poor condition for aquatic life. And I believe we are at roughly 40-48% of our waterways that are too inhospitable for life, but I do not have that source on hand (so for the meantime, take it for what it’s worth).

    I’d also recommend picking up a few books on the subject (books published before this video), that have a similar theme:

    A Bridge at the End of the World
    Something New Under the Sun

    I think you might be in for a surprise.

    Lastly, I would recommend steering away from opinionated, jaded perspectives that appear to be more rant-like in nature, and instead properly deconstruct videos like this with effective evidence to support your claims.
    It would be more fair to both you and anyone you disagree with.

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