Flint Town, So Far From The American Dream.
This is an unflinching view on the decline Flint Michigan has experienced in the last few years. From the loss of The General Motor Company which was Flint’s main source of income for decades. From the large amounts of poverty which has raised the amount of crime and violence in the town. Then to add insult to injury due to the lead poisoning in Flint’s water supply from a policy decision to change water supplies to ultimately save money. Flint is a boiling pot and this documentary shines a light on the toll all of this has had on the citizens of Flint, and the very underfunded and short-staffed police department trying to maintain order.
The Flint Police department officer numbers went from 300 to 98 and are operating with just nine police cars to patrol the entire city. The documentary follows the Flint Police Department and how they are struggling with a lack of funding, staff, and resources to actively serve the community which is swiftly losing faith in them. The series does focus on some incredible police officers and their journey through Flint, and how their jobs are becoming increasingly difficult and bordering on impossible. Two particular police officers that the series focuses on is Bridgette Balasko and Robert Frost. Even in the very first episode, you see officer Balasko responding to a breaking and entering/assault which was actually four days old at this point. The victim explains how it took them four days to respond to his call and even highlights how he had returned from hospital with sixteen face stitches for the injury he obtained during the breaking and entering. The look on officer Balasko’s face sums it up perfectly as she almost has a look of ‘yeah we are doing our best’ without even uttering a word.
“Poverty breads crime.” is what one of the officers states and the documentary displays this in an honest and non-glorified manner. The series is incredible to look at and is well directed and the camera work is rather cinematic at times. Other times it does follow the standard documentary style format, but will not leave you bored with just splices of endless newsreel footage like some documentaries have in the past. The documentary doesn’t shy away from the brutality of crime or even the dereliction of the urban landscape. However, it does not feel for a moment like it is glorifying or trying to turn this series into poverty porn. The series is trying to highlight how the town of Flint has been left behind and slipped so far away from the American Dream. I almost felt like it was trying to be a cautionary tale to the other towns of the US as this is a potential reality for them. Even one of the narrations stated a similar sentiment that Flint is feeling it the worst right now but it isn’t too long before everywhere else suffers the same.
The circumstances there in Flint are without a doubt rather bleak and the series doesn’t really highlight how it can be improved. As it isn’t really something that can be band-aid fixed. The crime level is through the roof, the town is beyond poor, the police are underfunded and there is not a lot of prospects for the future. One member of the community stated to Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail that the average house income in the 1980’s was US 84,000. Whereas today the average is just US 24,000. This is a sad reality that the people of Flint have to live with. Then add the skyrocketing crime coupled with the water having toxic levels of lead, and it is no surprise that the people and police of Flint are mad and struggling.
This series is depressing and focuses on some very tough subject matter. I would not recommend it for people who may have a sensitive disposition. However, if you are interested in watching this series I would highly recommend it. As Flint Town is an unflinching and honest depiction of a town at breaking point.