Green Room

The Hollywood activist formula strikes again

posted at 10:10 am on December 16, 2012 by

My friend Phelim McAleer was never going to be a fan of the movie Promised Land.  The film, financed in significant part by money from the United Arab Emirates, takes aim at the American natural-gas industry, and Phelim himself challenged cast members Matt Damon and John Krasinski over the conflict of interest inherent in that arrangement.  The New York Post published Phelim’s review of the movie, which is as negative as you’d expect.  But Phelim points out something specific about Hollywood’s activist-didactic formula that is so overused and cliched that one would expect it to have become almost satire, if Hollywood wasn’t so deadly dull and full of its own assumed moral superiority:

You can see this in Steve Butler, the character Damon plays. At the film’s start, he’s intelligent and witty; Steve knows people and knows his business. He has all the answers as he goes from home to home, reassuring people looking to lease their land for fracking — a process that removes oil and gas from previously-inaccessible rock.

But then, on his last job before he takes a big promotion, he comes up against Krasinski’s character, environmentalist Dustin Noble. Noble produces wild stories of farms polluted and destroyed from natural-gas drilling and warns the locals that this will happen to them if they let the gas company into their area.

This is when “Promised Land” starts to falter. Suddenly, Steve transforms from someone who’s seen and done it all in the gas-drilling world into a stammering fool who can’t come up with a decent sentence in defense of his industry.

Damon’s character should say that environmental activists have been caught time after time lying and exaggerating about fracking — often as part of multimillion-dollar lawsuits. He should point out that no peer-reviewed scientific study has ever shown that fracking contaminates water.

But no, half way through the film, when any real drilling hand would have plenty of answers, Steve suddenly turns into a stammering, inarticulate fool. The character becomes unrecognizable.

This inexplicable change sucks the life out of “Promised Land.”

It doesn’t make sense in the movie — but it’s understandable when you realize that, in real life, Damon and Krasinski are anti-fracking ideologues. Damon spoke out publicly against the process some time ago; Krasinski has now done a long anti-fracking rant on David Letterman’s show.

They probably don’t know the arguments Steve should make; they certainly don’t want to hear them, nor could they really allow any criticism of the environmental movement in the film, since it would undermine their own ideology.

How many times have we seen this formula in Hollywood films?  Pretty much every time Hollywood wants us to pay $10 a head for their social/political/economic lecture series.  These aren’t works of cinematic art; they’re the equivalent to the cheap college psychodramas put on by campus activist groups, only with a lot more money behind them, and they’re just as tiresome and vapid.

I watched Wreck-It Ralph last night with my granddaughters and had a great time.  I doubt that I’ll even bother with Promised Land when it comes to the free movie channels on my cable system.

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I watched and enjoyed movies like “Erin Brockovich”, knowing that they were b.s., but I need a new and different kind of crusader now.

Cindy Munford on December 16, 2012 at 10:36 AM

I can assure you that I will never watch this movie.

Xasprtr on December 16, 2012 at 10:39 AM

PS: “Erin Brockovich” was alright, but then again, Julia Roberts has 10X the charm of Matt Dingleberry.

Xasprtr on December 16, 2012 at 10:41 AM

I wonder why the United Arab Emirates would sponsor a movie like this?//////////////

Cindy Munford on December 16, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Took the family to “Wreck It Ralph” on Friday. As a former arcade junkie I was very excited about seeing lots of my old favorites n action again. Overall the movie was cute, but I found myself bored more than once. Great characters, great animation, lots of historical gaming nods, but something was missing. The story was fine and had some nice turns, but I think they spent too much time in Sugar Land and could have incorporated more different video game characters throughout the entire movie. Sue Sylvester’s role was my favorite, she had the best lines (and the best figure). :-)

TheLoudTalker on December 16, 2012 at 11:30 AM

they’re the equivalent to the cheap college psychodramas put on by campus activist groups,

Respectfully disagree.

They are more like Marxist “morality” plays that used to be taken to Chinese peasants by Mao’s butchers. They were performed on the back of a flat-bed truck and were about what you would expect from the Department of Re-Education. It’s the source from which Hollyweird draws almost all of their “inspiration”. That, and of course their hero, Socialist Icon, Joseph Goebbels.

oldleprechaun on December 16, 2012 at 11:51 AM

These movies are rarely successful.

Rendition, actually one of the better ones, still failed to break even on paper.

Syriana (utter garbage): made a paper profit of less than $1m which was probably a loss as every film goes over budget.

And so on.

If studios want to flush cash down the drain, and films with those kind of numbers are considered bombs…let them have at it. There are enough folks like Allahpundit who will hype the Avengers and Batfruit to generate the profits to prop up political snore-fests.

CorporatePiggy on December 16, 2012 at 12:14 PM

I’m not a fan of John Reilly’s, but “Wreck it Ralph” was fun and touching. A little shallow, maybe, but good hearted, and Sarah Silverman made me cry. Sarah Silverman!

RINOs are people too on December 16, 2012 at 12:29 PM

I will see one unresearched movie this year. I’m taking my girls to see “The Hobbit” when I get back to town.

Otherwise I will only pay money to see productions that are put out by people that share my values.

Every documentary put out about fracking and NG by the left is a lie.

Remember when they said they wanted us off coal and on clean gas?

hawkdriver on December 16, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Water World. The Day After tomorrow. The China Syndrome. A.I. An on, and on, and on.

I’m surprised they haven’t made a movie out of “Silent Spring.”

iurockhead on December 16, 2012 at 1:03 PM

I hope it bombs. There are, unfortunately, too many people who think whatever comes out of Hollywood must be the gospel truth.

“Wreck It Ralph” was a delightful movie. My 17-yr-old gamer son was dying to see it so we went as a family (even my 21-yr-old daughter came). We all loved it (and teared up a bit, too). My son was on hand to give us all the gaming references we missed after the movie but it is still a lovely movie even without all the insider info.

inmypajamas on December 16, 2012 at 1:25 PM

The environmentalist character’s name is “Noble?”

Did they not want to with Goodguy McRightous?

DrAllecon on December 16, 2012 at 2:34 PM

I own about 300 dvds pre 1970 and about 60 after 1970. I may add
one every 2 to 3 years. The crap they put out now sucks without the political slant. With it , it’s almost criminal what they produce.

rik on December 16, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Everytime I hear Matt Damon, this always comes to mind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUa5oHgYV2k

tom2789 on December 16, 2012 at 3:14 PM

Hollywood hasn’t really been about ‘entertainment’ since World War II.

Once the government saw the power over behavior, consciousness, and perception of reality inherent in mass disseminated media, especially of the motion picture variety, it was all but over for strictly ‘entertainment’.

Hollywood became the concerted propaganda arm of the US Government, and every other self-serving special interest group with dollars and a sympathetic paying audience – forever.

There is no mystery as to why Barack Hussein Obama surrounds himself with Hollywood celebrities. Nor is their any mystery as to why Hollywood celebrities sell their souls to the man and his ilk who want nothing less than to all but destroy the USA and rebuild it the way they see fit for all Americans whether they’re on-board with the new vision for America or not.

So long as they keep their celebrity worshiped status and enough money to sustain them and their Hollywood celebrity lifestyles for the rest of their natural lives anyway. Even taxed at 50%-75% ALL of the Hollywood celebrities publicly and vociferously cheerleading for Barack Hussein Obama and his ilk of Marxism will still have more money than they could fritter away in an entire adult lifetime.

Each and every person who attends a movie theater showing of any Hollywood production, or even rents Hollywood’s drivel, just dumps more money into their pockets – and into their cause.

SD Tom on December 16, 2012 at 3:41 PM

But no, half way through the film, when any real drilling hand would have plenty of answers, Steve suddenly turns into a stammering, inarticulate fool.

Nice strawman you’ve built their Matt.

agmartin on December 16, 2012 at 4:37 PM

But no, half way through the film, when any real drilling hand would have plenty of answers, Steve suddenly turns into a stammering, inarticulate fool.

I guess Damon’s acting ability quit on him, and he just showed his natural personality.

RoadRunner on December 16, 2012 at 5:17 PM

I don’t think “Promised Land” will be a major Oscar contender. Although many Academy members might like the film’s message, that’s not necessarily going to be enough to put it over the top.

“Promised Land” has received hardly any recognition from the critics’ awards groups this year. The only thing I can find that it has received so far is a “one of the top 10 films of the year” citation by the National Board of Review. There are plenty of films getting more recognition than that.

And I would be even more surprised if “Promised Land” were to become a box office hit. Most of the films about the Iraq war failed, and this sounds like another “send a message, not entertainment” film.

J.S.K. on December 16, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Hollywood became the concerted propaganda arm of the US Government

SD Tom on December 16, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Yours is very likely the most uninformed conspiratorial rant I’ve seen on this site. Ever.

John the Libertarian on December 16, 2012 at 6:15 PM

It would be nice to see the Arab Emirates get an Oscar followed up by a Nobel prize. Who thought the Oil Ticks had such an altruistic nature? But then, no one had any idea that the MoBros were largely secular either.

BL@KBIRD on December 16, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Remember when they said they wanted us off coal and on clean gas?

hawkdriver on December 16, 2012 at 1:00 PM

+1

86 on December 16, 2012 at 7:09 PM

The environmentalist character’s name is “Noble?”

Did they not want to with Goodguy McRightous?

DrAllecon

:-)

Olo_Burrows on December 16, 2012 at 8:11 PM

Yours is very likely the most uninformed conspiratorial rant I’ve seen on this site. Ever.

John the Libertarian on December 16, 2012 at 6:15 PM

Because they told you so, huh?

The red under your bed and the little yellow man in your head… and that true blue inside of you.

Yeah. You know what’s really on the up and up and what’s really goin’ down.

Please – tell us more.

SD Tom on December 16, 2012 at 8:20 PM

Matt Damon has turned into one of the most arrogant, self-importan, insufferable asses in Hollywood

I’d have a hard time not smacking his bloated, smug face if I ever ran into him on the street

I hope crap like this continues to flop at the box office (like all the left wing anti-Iraq films did until they finally quit making that garbage)

Meanwhile movies with more traditional sensibilities like “Act of Valor” and likely “Zero Dark Thiry” and “Lone Survivor” will crush box office expectations, and continue to baffle the leftist jackasses in Hollywood who have no clue about the rest of the country

thurman on December 17, 2012 at 1:49 AM

Xasprtr on December 16, 2012 at 10:41 AM

10x of nothing is still nothing.

ZK on December 17, 2012 at 8:11 AM

I don’t think “Promised Land” will be a major Oscar contender. Although many Academy members might like the film’s message, that’s not necessarily going to be enough to put it over the top.

J.S.K. on December 16, 2012 at 5:55 PM

I have to disagree with that. These morons have regularly nominated and awarded people like Mikey Moore for their libtard political garbage. This is the kind of junk Hollywood loves to gush over at the self-agrandizing awards shows.

dentarthurdent on December 17, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Syriana (utter garbage): made a paper profit of less than $1m which was probably a loss as every film goes over budget.

I like parts of Syriana, as it was a great example of how a bumbling fool (George Clooney), running around in countries with a culture he really didn’t understand, would be treated.

J_Crater on December 17, 2012 at 12:15 PM

I don’t think “Promised Land” will be a major Oscar contender. Although many Academy members might like the film’s message, that’s not necessarily going to be enough to put it over the top.

J.S.K. on December 16, 2012 at 5:55 PM

I have to disagree with that. These morons have regularly nominated and awarded people like Mikey Moore for their libtard political garbage. This is the kind of junk Hollywood loves to gush over at the self-agrandizing awards shows.

dentarthurdent on December 17, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Yeah, but Michael Moore was in the documentary category, where sending an overt message is normal. And even he only won once and got one other nomination, despite being a big name in films for over 20 years.

I have no doubt that “Promised Land”‘s message is congenial to the anti-natural-gas crowd in the Academy. In fact, they nominated an anti-natural-gas documentary, “Gasland,” for Best Documentary Feature just two years ago. But “Promised Land” is a drama, not a documentary, and it can’t collect an award just for having the proper left-wing message.

You can’t assume that this particular film is guaranteed to win Oscars because it fits with Hollywood’s ideology, because there will usually be several other films that fit with Hollywood’s ideology relating to other issues.

J.S.K. on December 17, 2012 at 2:34 PM