As comedian Ricky Gervais said so pointedly at the most recent Golden Globes, Hollywood is full of people with no experience in the real world who think they should tell the rest of us how to live. Movies, once our best form of entertainment, are more and more becoming reality plays intended to shape our attitudes.
A perfect example of this is Dark Waters, a film now down to about 100 screen across America in spite of an A-list cast that includes Mark Ruffalo (who also served as producer), Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway, Bill Pullman, and Tim Robbins, a liberal’s liberal probably best known as Susan Sarandon’s former longtime lover. The film’s global gross is just over $11 million according to IMDb.com which is probably less than it cost to make and market. But there are potentially billions on the line, so the folks behind it probably would think it cheap at twice the price.
The storyline – corporate lawyer becomes do-gooder battling an evil corporation secretly poisoning groundwater in the Ohio River valley – is supposedly “based on a true story.” To translate, that means everything in the movie looks like it’s true to life even if the actual facts won’t sustain the storyline.
In this case, that’s important. The chemicals talked about in the film have not been shown to be cancer-causing or toxic to humans but, because they’re widely used (in everything from the manufacture of frying pans to fire-fighting equipment) by a company with extremely deep pockets, there’s a concerted effort underway to suggest they are in order to get into court with major damage claims generating big settlements.
As we’ve seen time and again, the lion’s share of those payouts – if they happen – will go to the lawyers and politically active groups that helped push the narrative. They won’t go to the poor people whom they claim were adversely impacted by the damaged environment. For the trial lawyers and others involved, it’s their return on investment, which will do a lot to make up for the film being overlooked by the Golden Globes and the Oscars.
No one involved in Dark Waters (or any other of these new messages movies) intended for the film to flop. It got largely positive reviews from the critics – who tend to be politically liberal, just like most of the rest of the entertainment industry – and was a boon to the folks pushing for the U.S. House of Representatives to move on legislation requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to come up with an aggressive plan for dealing with the family of chemicals labeled in the film as being so destructive despite plenty of solid science saying they’re not.
There was a time when a 126-minute, slickly produced cinematic achievement like Dark Waters would have been labeled propaganda. Now it’s just socially-conscious filmmaking, funded generously in this instance by the taxpayers. The State of Ohio provided an estimated $2.5 million in tax credits to help the film get made despite how bad it makes people living along the Ohio River look.
As study after study has shown, these special interest tax breaks rarely generate enough revenue for the state to justify them. Ohio and every other state that wants to attract filmmaking as an industry would be better off eliminating them and lowering the state income tax or some other tax rate if they’re looking to boost economic growth.
Against the advice of legendary producer Sam Goldwyn – the “G” in MGM – more and more of the film colony regard their products as an opportunity to influence the attitudes of the American public. To them, movies aren’t supposed to entertain; they’re supposed to right wrongs and address injustice. Which means the folks behind Dark Waters probably didn’t ever worry about hitting the break-even point between what they spent and what the film grossed. Its network of well-heeled, politically savvy backers likely overlooked the potential loss in order to popularize the issue and potentially taint any future jury pool in states where future lawsuits may be filed.
IndieWire may have called Dark Waters, “A didactic, sometimes listless thriller,” and the East Bay Express may have shown better judgment than some of the New York critics when it said it, “Makes for a dreary, warmed-over-Erin-Brockovich drama,” but as a tool for helping the trial bar open up new avenues to great riches, it’s a four-star effort that’s sure to launch many sequels if it works.
by John Stossel • RealClearPolitics
Thomas Collier is a Democrat who managed environmental policy for Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Then he noticed a mining opportunity in Alaska, one he calls “the single largest deposit of gold and silver that is not being developed in the entire world.”
Tom’s company hired hundreds of people to study the Pebble Mine’s potential environmental impact, a first step before asking the Environmental Protection Agency for permission to dig. Usually, the EPA analyzes a company’s study, then does its own research, then rules. But in this case, the EPA did something odd — it rejected the mine before Pebble even got its application in.
That’s never happened before, says Collier. Continue reading
by Walter E. Williams • Townhall
President Barack Obama’s stance, expressed in his 2014 State of the Union address, is that the debate is settled and climate change is a fact. Obama is by no means unique in that view. Former Vice President Al Gore declared that “the science is settled.” This “settled science” vision about climate is held by many, including those in academia. To call any science settled is sheer idiocy. Had mankind acted as though any science could possibly be settled, we’d be living in caves, as opposed to having the standard of living we enjoy today. That higher standard of living stems from challenges to what might have been seen as “scientific fact.”
According to mathematician Samuel Arbesman’s book, “The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date,” many ideas taken as facts today will be shown to be wrong as early as five years from now. Arbesman argues that a study published in a physics journal will lose half its value in 10 years. Continue reading
The weird, misleading propaganda behind the federal health care law
It might seem odd that Joanna Coles, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, was invited to the White House for lunch. After all, why would the most powerful person in the world bother meeting with the editor of a publication that specializes in hot summer sex tricks and the year’s most dangerous diet? Particularly on May 2, 2014, when just about every important political journalist was in town for the White House Correspondents Dinner, the annual gala where pols and press rub shoulders and bond over bottomless booze.
But Coles had a big favor coming to her. In 2013, she publicly pledged her magazine’s ad space and editorial content to help promote the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. There are now more than 100 references to Obamacare on Cosmo’s website, almost all of them glowing. Continue reading
I repeat: I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier. I’ve long believed that it cannot be good for humanity to be spewing tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I also believe that those scientists who pretend to know exactly what this will cause in 20, 30 or 50 years are white-coated propagandists.
“The debate is settled,” asserted propagandist in chief Barack Obama in his latest State of the Union address. “Climate change is a fact.” Really? There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled, static, impervious to challenge. Take a non-climate example. It was long assumed that mammograms help reduce breast cancer deaths. This fact was so settled that Obamacare requires every insurance plan to offer mammograms (for free, no less) or be subject to termination. Continue reading
The Obamacare/shutdown battle has spawned myriad myths. The most egregious concern the substance of the fight, the identity of the perpetrators and the origins of the current eruption.
President Obama indignantly insists that GOP attempts to abolish or amend Obamacare are unseemly because it is “settled” law, having passed both houses of Congress, obtained his signature and passed muster with the Supreme Court.
Yes, settledness makes for a strong argument — except from a president whose administration has unilaterally changed Obamacare five times after its passage, including, most brazenly, a year-long suspension of the employer mandate. Continue reading
Rather than devote all possible resources to the implementation of the new health care law, which even some prominent Democrats agree is going off the tracks, the Obama administration is spending time and money on a propaganda campaign intended to convince people they like Obamacare.
It is, to be sure, an odd strategy, but they don’t call Washington “Disneyland on the Potomac” for nothing.
Getting people to comply with the new law was supposed to be a simple matter. That’s why the authors put in an “individual mandate” that requires people to purchase health insurance of one kind or another or pay a penalty – which the United States Supreme Court decided was constitutional because it was the same thing as a tax. It’s an easy choice: Either buy insurance or pay the government. Continue reading
by George Landrith
At the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, the president revealed a sad truth – the mainstream media actively works to advance his political career. He quipped that his campaign manager “David Axelrod now works for MSNBC, which is a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod.”
In deed, the mainstream media has been diligently advancing Obama’s political career since at least 2008. And the media’s active participation in the Benghazi cover-up is proof positive of the media’s deep and profound dishonesty. Continue reading
For years, media bias has been hotly debated. Let me settle this here and now. The mainstream media is not biased. Bias implies some level of subtly in the prejudice. There is nothing subtle about the media’s blatant partiality which actually reaches the level of dishonest propaganda.
There is an unmistakeable trend in play – some evil and/or demented person kills and injures a large number of innocent people and the extreme Left and the “mainstream” media (but I repeat myself) blame conservatives for the evil-doer’s actions. This is an almost reflexive reaction for the media and the Left. Continue reading