Skip to comments.Matt Damonís Latest Film Simplifies a Complex Political Issue
Posted on 01/06/2013 5:41:57 AM PST by Kaslin
Matt Damons latest film Promised Land arrived in theaters nationwide yesterday with a focus on the controversial issue of fracking. Written by Matt Damon (who won an Oscar for co-writing Good Will Hunting) and John Krasinski (The Office), the story focuses on a small community that is asked to debate the merits of the process when a large corporation arrives in town wanting to buy much of the local land.
In an article from the Wall Street Journal, reporter Daniel Gilbert described -- much more succinctly than the film does -- what the process of fracking entails. He noted that Fracking involves blasting millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals into a well to break up shale and allow oil and gas to flow out.
The community that Promised Land is set in is suffering financially and tempted by the thought of having millions of dollars poured into the region. Damon plays Steve Butler, a salesman who tries to convince the locals to sell the land to his company, Global. When a local politician hosts a discussion of the subject in the high school gym, though, Butler spots trouble right away when a teacher (played by Hal Holbrook) interrupts the forum to question the environmental impact that fracking would have in the area. Soon enough, a charismatic environmentalist named Dustin Noble (Karsinski) arrives in town and tries to get the locals to reject Global.
The movie, focusing on the controversial subject, has inevitably received criticism from those on the Right and praise from some on the Left. But its not the movies political leanings that hold it back. Its the simplicity in which the writers evaluate the subject.
Superficially, the movie seeks to argue that fracking can be both beneficial and detrimental. Butler argues that it will help the community because it will bring in more money to the individuals who sell their land. Noble argues that fracking will destroy the community and even grossly suggests -- to a group of young students, no less -- that fracking could cause the whole community to burst into flame.
When you think about the real substance of the film, though, its ideology is clear. Like many evil corporations , the fracking company in Land has a cold and hardened name: Global. As opposed to the small-town farmers depicted in the movie, the company has arrived in town to take over the community without any respect to its traditions or values. The characters names also lack much subtlety. Butler is, of course, the character who does the corporations chores for them. He gets the locals to sign their land away, working for a company that he seemingly knows little about. (At one point, he even questions some of the damning evidence against his company, noting that if the evidence was true, he would have already heard about it already). On the other hand, the proud environmentalist is named Noble.
So whom would you trust? A Butler who works for a corporation -- or a Noble who loves the environment and loves spending time with regular people?
It should be noted that the story offers some twists that seek to offer more complexity to the main characters. Those twists, however, fail to take the story to a higher level. Instead, they just show how evil -- and ruthless -- the corporation really is. From the beginning of the film, the deck is stacked in favor of the environmental forces. By the end, the story reveals that much of the debate about fracking only existed because the corporation wanted it to exist.
Of course, the movie argues that Global is evil. Its a corporation that exists solely to make money. And as Butler argues, the townspeople should agree to its requests because they too can be greedy capitalists. In one scene, he argues that the money that the townspeople receive will be screw you money (although Butler doesnt use the word screw). But few arguments are offered about the benefits of fracking and why many consider it a viable energy source.
In other words, Promised Land takes a complex issue -- worthy of a vigorous and important debate about energy independence -- and simplifies it, leaving the viewer with a blatantly one-sided account of the issue.
That film is going to bomb.
large corporation arrives in town wanting to BUY much of the local land, compared to reality, the government TAKING IT.
Superficially, the movie seeks to argue that fracking can be both beneficial and detrimental.
Wow. Giving both sides of fracking. I was not interested in the movie but since it gives the positive and negatives or pro and con of this why are people against this movie? Crazy!!!! I think movies that give you both sides of an issue is a good thing. I am surprised conservatives are against this....shouldn’t making up your own mind and decisions be a conservative attribute?
It’s not a complicated issue at all.
1. There is tons of proof that fracking recovers tons of natural gas and oil in a cost effective way. Doing that will add tons of jobs, hugely reduce our trade deficit, and hurt terrorists.
2. There is no evidence at all that fracking damages water supplies.
Making this “complicated” is just a backdoor way to decarbonize America, kill job creation, increase the trade deficit and help terrorists.
Making this “complicated” suggests that there are two reasonable sides to this issue that need to be balanced. There are not.
Oh definitely. The film cannot compete with Texas Chainsaw and Django. Those two are the top movies of the weekend guaranteed!!!! I have not seen either one of these but Django seems interesting....if it is like Pulp Fiction which it seems to be it might be a decent movie.
There is no evidence at all that fracking damages water supplies.
It is too soon to know. Smoking cigarettes were not classified as bad for you for a ton of time until they found out they are not the greatest item on the market when thinking about health.
As long as there are schools, environmentalist pablum will have a market.
Yes, we knew but accepted the risk.
Now we have a bunch of fat people that live with diabetes rather than a bunch of thin people that die of cancer.
Life's hard - choices matter.
Are you trying to suggest that there might be something unsavory about the fact that Saudi Arabia funded Matt Damon’s little movie and that it might be biased?
A simple LIE maybe.
The first well was fracked in Pennsylvania, nearly 100 years ago. It is not too soon to say it’s safe.
The only risk with fracking is human error when handling the drilling fluids above ground. (ruptured tanks, leaking tankers, improper/illegal disposal)
Playing Devil's Advocate:
One could say the same about the Movie "Atlas Shrugged Part I/Part II". The message in Atlas is: capitalism is good, government control is bad, captains of industry can save the nation. It's really quite one-sided.
The difference is: The pro-socialist movie gets a big star (Matt Damon), and big publicity budget, wide opening release, will probably win an award, and may make a profit.
The "Atlas Shrugged" movies were shunned, featured no one famous, got no awards, and made no profit.
Telling a one-sided story in favor of socialism can work out very well. It's money in the bank.
Telling a one-sided story about capitalism is not welcome at this point in history. It's financially risky.
If you think this movie gives both sides, you are sadly mistaken. The flick was largely financed by United Arab Emirates backers. Guess what THEY want.
There is no real scientific controversy about fracking, which has been done for half a century, with improving safety the entire time.
The whole "anti-fracking" meme (not just this movie) is promulgated by a confederation of interest between "green" eco-nuts and OPEC. The greens provide the propaganda, and the OPEC interests see that it gets transmitted (OPEC entities own large chunks of Associated Press, Fox, and many other channels for propaganda transmission).
Have there been incidents from fracking.....yes. But like mass school shootings they have been (and make the news only because) they are very, VERY rare.
Exaclty - haven't/won't see it, but I bet you can summarize his role as, "Fracking helps provide plentiful, affordable energy.....Oh my God, what have I helped wreak on the poor planet...I'm so fracking sorry, but now I know better; fracking and cheap energy are eeeeeeevil".