RACE TO NOWHERE – a chilling documentary about our achievement driven culture

by Lee Rose Emery

Last night I attended a screening at Sunset Laemmle’s 5 of a very disturbing documentary about America’s youth and achievement culture called,  RACE TO NOWHERE. This is a thought-provoking documentary that every parent should see. My kids are a lot younger than most of the kids that the film follows, but I viewed it as a cautionary tale for all of us with young children as our kids grow up in our fast paced, media saturated, money driven, over-scheduled world.

The film is dedicated to a bright, beautiful teenaged girl who seemingly out of the blue committed suicide. In interviewing the child’s mother, the message seemed to be that there were little to no warning signs before the incident, but for a bad grade on a math test. RACE TO NOWHERE tracks high school kids today who are so stressed out, so over-scheduled, and so “result driven” by a pressure to position themselves for acceptance into a top-notch college, that they are physically and mentally burnt out. They are also apparently not learning the critical thinking skills that they will actually need in an adult world. They cram for, or cheat on tests. Then they spit back information that is lost and forgotten after the exam.

According to the documentary, these kids eat their friends’ prescription ADD medicine to be able to stay awake longer in order to finish hours and hours of homework after long days at school and rigorous athletic practices. They starve themselves. They don’t sleep. They are running on an impossible treadmill, and the filmmaker, Vicki Abeles, the mother of such children asks, for what?

What I found most disturbing about the film was that at first glance you might say the kids in this film are the lucky ones. Most of the kids depicted had means, concerned parents, and a multitude of opportunities. They had athletic programs and played musical instruments. They participated in community service programs. They took AP classes. So many American children have no access to any of these offerings in our school systems, and also have no hope of higher education. RACE TO NOWHERE made me feel that If the kids that “have it all” are depressed and miserable and burned out, then there is something drastically wrong with our culture, and we are all to blame.

If you can see it, do, and let me know your thoughts. No matter what the culture is in your individual family, I promise RACE TO NOWHERE will make you think, and hopefully start an important dialogue with your friends and educators.It is also possible to organize screenings in your local communities or at your school. See the RACE TO NOWHERE website for full details and local show times. The run at Sunset Laemmles’ is over.  But there are some local screenings coming up.:

Race to Nowhere is playing at Santa Monica High School this Wednesday, September 22 at 7:00 PM.

There’s also a screening in Encino on monday eve oct 4th in auditorium at mars academy rsvp here

8000 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

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