Hosted by twice Oscar nominated actor Woody Harrelson, Ethos explores the mechanisms in our systems that work against democracy, the environment and our own personal liberty.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself - Host
Justin Lewis ...
Himself - Author, Constructing Public Opinion
Bill Hogan ...
Himself - The Center for Public Integrity
Himself - Professor, MIT
Tony Benn ...
Himself - Veteran British Parliament
Himself - Author & Historian
Ray Anderson ...
Himself - CEO Interface
Samuel Epstein ...
Himself - Professor of Environmental Medicine
Jane Akre ...
Herself - Investigative Reporter
Robert Monks ...
Himself - Corporate Governance Advisor
Sam Gibara ...
Himself - Chairman, Former CEO Goodyear
Ira Jackson ...
Himself - Director, Center for Business and Government, Harvard University
Pat Jackson ...
Himself - Colleague of Edward Bernays
Peter Levy ...
Himself - Employee of Edward Bernays
Ann Bernays ...
Herself - Daughter of Edward Bernays (as Anne Bernays)


This documentary examines the flaws in our systems, and the mechanisms that work against democracy and the environment. From conflicts of interests in politics and unregulated corporate power, to a news media that serves the interests of powerful elites; ETHOS explores the systems that lead us into over consumption and warfare. Too often the media celebrates aspects of our society that belong in the dark ages, while at the same time ignoring or ridiculing progressive thinking or ideas. Many aspects of the way our systems work almost guarantee our destruction as a society and that's what this film is about. Fractured societies, poverty, disparity, pollution, warfare. Is there something inherently wrong with the human race? Is that what we should think of ourselves? We have tried to set up forms of law and government that safeguard the public good. But, if the majority of people want to live in peace and justice in a clean environment and we look around at the world and see that isn't ... Written by Media For Action

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Political Documentary, Woody Harrelson, Ethos







Release Date:

10 February 2011 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


[first lines]
Woody Harrelson - Host: Every day we turn on the TV and there's more bad news. Another environmental catastrophe somewhere, or more starving refugees, or innocent victims in war zones. And most of us are busy trying to make ends meet in our own lives, and we see these images and we feel helpless to do anything about it. I think the deep shame we feel about that is paralyzing. Certainly one of the reasons we turn away.
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References ABC News Nightline (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

An Attempt To Teach Left Wing Analysis To Right Wing Conspiracists
19 February 2014 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Ethos is an interesting little DIY documentary project- a sort of political zeitgeist from the perspective of the left. It is hosted by Woody Harrelson, and is mainly a compilation of interviews and ideas from commentators on both the right and the left. These ideas are compiled into segments that reflect upon the political analyses of Chomsky, Zinn and others....analyses that often find themselves under the umbrella of "conspiracy theories".

Personally, I liked this film because it aligns very closely to my own political observations and analysis...and manages to explain some of these understandings that are central to holding such a worldview, in a succinct way that even idiot right-wingers can understand. Any leftie-anarchist type who has ever hung out and conversed with the people over at ConCen for any period of time....will know what I'm talking about.

What makes this film particularly interesting though, is that it dips into legit observations from both the left and right, and compiles them into an argument that is directed at the very right wing conspiracy theorists it is inherently critical of, in a brazen attempt to enlighten them about left-political analysis...and bring them over to our side in the process.

McGrain does this by looking at financial/banking conspiracies and how they tie in with the political elite, who exploit the media to control the masses (using interviews with people like ron paul, g.e. griffin, russo etc to illustrate this). Something the right fully understands. But then he juxtaposes these ideas with left wing criticism from people like Chomsky, Zinn, and Naomi Klein, who provide a critique of where the right goes wrong- and where the left and right become fragmented from one another (at least in the conspiracy realm, at which this doc is clearly directed)- Rothbardian ultra-Libertarianism.

By doing this, he is brazenly attempting to enlighten these right wing viewers about the nature of left wing political analysis. I'd argue he does this pretty effectively, but that's likely because he's arguing the exact same thing that I, myself, I'm probably biased on that front.

In the end, though, one idea is put forth, which can be embraced by both the left and right, and used to empower us all....this is the idea of consumer action. Political activism via how and where you spend your money. These libertarian oriented actors only speak one language and that is the almighty buck. Any way that you can affect their bottom line is a realm which you, as an individual in a capitalist world, do have power. So use it. Don't like what a company or person is doing? Don't direct any money into their coiffures. Take a stand and spend ethically.

Remember Kids.....Don't Vote....Revolt. This is a Good way to start.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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