Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Shadow Effect DVD Review

So I agreed to write a review in exchange for getting a free copy of this DVD. Unfortunately it arrived at a time when a lot was happening in my life (like my husband having to go through chemotherapy and me landing in the hospital for a couple of nights with alarmingly high blood pressure) so I was a little busy wallowing in self-pity to actually get to it for a while.

Once I did, I tried to watch it with a critical eye, knowing that I would be writing this review, but after a while I decided to just fall into it and watch it as a plain old viewer. I figured I go back and watch it again to be able to critique it more closely, but the problem has been that I simply don't want to. I can't get myself to watch the darn thing again.

I had hoped that The Shadow Effect would be as convincing as The Secret, which I have devoured several times. And during the first 30 minutes, I thought that perhaps it would be. The premise is a good one: we all have “undesirable” sides (our “shadows”) that prevent us from living to our full potential, and we become better people if we learn to embrace those sides of ourselves, forgive ourselves for having them, and try to incorporate them into our lives as a piece of who we are, instead of keeping them buried and hidden away. I especially liked the visual metaphor of trying to hold a bunch of beach balls under water, but eventually running out of energy and having them fly up out of the water in a mad rush.

I have been on a journey to become a more mindful being, and have already uncovered some of my darker sides through other venues. So this information was not new to me, and I felt comfortable acknowledging its reality. Also, the idea that what bothers us most in others being what we hate most in ourselves, was not news. But I can see how this information, this learning about how we all have these “shadows”, could be enlightening for some viewers who may not have explored that side of themselves previously, although I have to believe that most of those who would watch this video to begin with, would likely already be working on learning from their past and incorporating forgiveness into their lives.

But after that enlightenment, it wall went downhill. Yeah, the part about the surviving concentration camp prisoner forgiving the woman who was a Nazi at the time, was very inspirational, but forgiving our enemies is not really the same thing as embracing our dark side. And let's face it, it probably would have been impossible for that Nazi woman to forgive herself if she didn't have a surviving prisoner around to tell her to.

The biggest issue I had with this DVD though is that it points out what's wrong with me, tells me to fix it, and ends. Want to learn how to fix yourself? Buy the next DVD!

In the meantime, the DVD does actually continue by talking about how we all need to take responsibility for the negative energy in the world, and starts getting into politics; pointing out what and who the producers think is wrong in this world, and telling us who we should be inspired by to help fix it. What the heck? Don't you think I feel crappy enough about not knowing how to embrace and incorporate my own issues without taking on the world's? It's a self-help video...I am watching it to help MYSELF.

At this point, I have to admit, I started getting petty. Debbie Ford's Botox lips started to really grate on my nerves. What can I say, I have a hard time accepting self-help advice from someone who is vain enough to do that to themselves. It's a pet-peeve of mine that I take full ownership of, but those lips really did start to get in my way. (Debbie, if they're not botoxed, I give you permission to go ahead and spend the money to get them fixed so they don't look like they are.)

The production also started really annoying me. The dramatic music was so obvious, as was the use of lighting to create giant shadows behind people who were still struggling, while Debbie and the others who were apparently enlightened were shadow-free behind them.

I also can't forget to mention that I thought it was kind of bizarre to have a member of the band Earth, Wind & Fire as a speaker along with all the New Age folks; definitely noticeably out of place.

Once the thing ended I felt pretty gypped. I would rather have read a magazine article about it all in Prevention; at least that would've given me a bulleted list of concrete things to try to better myself.

But wait! There are bonus materials! Surely they will have some information on things I can do for just that!

But wait! The bonus materials are previews of the interactive version of this movie! And I can buy that version for only $15! So basically, this “free” DVD is a big infomercial to get me to buy the real one. Pretty frustrating, considering that I am paying for the original one with this review.

I want my time back.