Tuesday, June 25, 2013

 

"Promised Land": Playing Both Sides?

Spoiler Alert

Promised Land is a 2012 environmentalist/anti-corporate fantasy film. I call it a fantasy film because I've rarely heard of a corporate tool like Damon's character, Steve Butler, making the sudden turnabout we see in Promised Land. Butler, who has just been offered the job of Vice President for Land Management of Global Crosspower Solutions is shocked, shocked to learn that large corporations deceive and manipulate people to get what they want.

You see, an environmental campaigner has been trying to thwart Butler's and Sue Thomason's (Frances McDormand) efforts to get the residents of the rural hamlet of McKinley to sign leases so Global can frack for natural gas. But the campaigner, Dustin Noble (John Krasinski), is revealed to be a ringer from Global whose job is to run an anti-fracking campaign and then blow it up at the last minute by getting caught deceiving the good people of McKinley. After Noble actually slips up and let's a surprised Butler know who he really works for, he explains: "Steve, companies like Global, they don't rely on anyone. That's how they win. They win by controlling every outcome. And they do that by playing both sides."

Promised Land can be fairly characterized as an anti-fracking film. I didn't realize that when I first started watching it but once I did I began to wonder if the film wasn't playing both sides against the audience. As it turns out, the film was bankrolled by Abu Dhabi Media. Abu Dhabi Media is owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates. The government of the United Arab Emirates is owned by hereditary, absolute monarchies--the Emirs and their families who got phenomenally rich off the oil and gas deposits under and offshore of the country. Of course, they wouldn't have any interest is opposing fracking, now would they?

In any case, Promised Land is a good and interesting film but just keep in mind when you watch it that you might be being played. Ask yourself, too, why the film got an R rating by the MPAA.

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