Support Marketplace

Get smarter in just 90 minutes a week

"Get smarter in just 90 minutes a week!" 

That sounds like the subject line of a piece of spam email pushing dubious pills. That said, I am offering (completely free of charge) a regimen that is guaranteed to leave you smarter about the economy we live in.

It's about the queue, people.

Next time you can do it when no one else is looking, take a peek at your queue. Your Netflix queue. Your list of Amazon Prime bookmarks. The videos on your wish list on iTunes. Look, I don't care if you are fixing to put the bag of popcorn in the microwave and settle down for an hour and twenty-five minutes of "The Nut Job," that's your right.

What I am saying is that I have figured out a way to make sure that my media consumption isn't a complete waste of brain cells by making one small alteration to my queue.

At least once a week, whether I am in the mood or not, I watch a feature-length documentary film. The documentary that first got me hooked on the form was Errol Morris' "The Thin Blue Line," (1998) about a miscarriage of justice in Texas. A good doc can teach so much about how the world works. Given my work, I often gravitate toward docs about the failures and promise of economics and business.

Take Alex Gibney's Oscar-nominated documentary from 2006, "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room." That film rocked, both in its approachable analysis of a complex subject and it rocked, literally. The ironic soundtrack included Tom Waits' "God's Away on Business" and a Marilyn Manson version of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)."

So what was in my personal queue for a recent weekend? Well, only two of the greatest documentaries of all time. I call it my Mongolian double-feature: "Genghis Blues," about a visually-impaired blues man from San Francisco who learns the Tuvan language before he travels to Mongolia to compete a throat singing contest. And then there's "The Story of the Weeping Camel," about a weeping camel. Really, it's fabulous.

And what does this have to do with the marketplace of jobs, business and economics?

That is covered by the third doc for the weekend viewing: "Detropia," the story of how parts of Detroit have become a wasteland and the heroes trying to bring the city back to life.

Check back in later, and I'll let you know whether you may want to consider sticking it in your queue.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...