We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Will there now be some green villains in the movies?

I have not read Michael Crichton’s latest novel, State of Fear, but I have just read this review of it, which I found via Arts & Letters Daily. It is a story with heroes and with villains, but here is the twist:

We soon learn that such skulduggery is being coordinated, or so it seems, by Nick Drake, a Ralph Nader clone – intense, single-minded and (apologies to Mr. Nader’s many fans) unhinged. He is president of the National Environmental Resource Fund (NERF), an organization founded by lawyers, not scientists, and devoted to pushing a radical environmental agenda. The fund is clearly modeled on the real-life Natural Resources Defense Council, whose annual budget is about the same: $44 million.

To keep the donations rolling in, Drake is trying to induce a perpetual state of fear in the public by marketing the hell out of predictions of catastrophic global warming. Global warming – as we are all too well aware these days – results from burning fossil fuels that load the atmosphere with heat-trapping carbon dioxide. Drake’s problem is that people just aren’t alarmed enough to send in those vital checks. But Drake has a plan; he’ll force nature to cooperate with him.

To get his plan rolling, Drake needs seed money, so he wheedles millionaire playboy George Morton, heir to a forklift fortune, into donating $10 million to NERF. But Morton has the audacity to withdraw his gift when a scientist at MIT apparently sets him straight about the science behind Drake’s claims. Drake is livid. Shortly after Morton takes his money back, he crashes his Ferrari through an oceanside guard rail and plunges down a cliff to his presumed death. No body is found. Is this an accident or yet another murder?

It will be extremely interesting to watch what happens to this book. Will it be picked up and run with by anti-environmentalist types like me? Well, here I am doing my bit for that process. Will this book perhaps be made into a movie? More generally, will the idea which it embodies, that greenery can be combined with villainy, be echoed in other stories, including the stories that emerge from Hollywood?

Hollywood has to have villains, and I have been willing to accept that the profusion of environment-destroying capitalist in the movies in recent years is caused at least partly by the fact that to get drama you need bad guys, and, well, environment good, people harming it bad, right?

And if you do not have a human villain, then you must have an inhuman force for the heroes to battle against, such as: environmental disaster.

But now that Crichton has explained – and in a best seller type book that will be sold in airports, that there can also be enviro-villains, and that environmental disasters might be lies told by enviro-villains, then we ought in due course to be seeing at least some Hollywood heavies who are decked out in green plumage. And it might well happen. All I am saying is: let us keep our eyes and ears open, and track this story as it unfolds.

21 comments to Will there now be some green villains in the movies?

  • David Hecht

    Er, not to take anything away from Michael Crichton, but…didn’t Tom Clancy already do this in one of his books, ages ago? The enviro-fanatics who were going to use some ultra-powerful bio-agent to kill off most of humanity, that they were going to release at the Sydney Olympics so as to use the spectators and athletes as vectors?

  • Stehpinkeln

    Ian Fleming. 007 was always saving the world from some sort of wacko. Greenie = wacko.
    My Favorite was Superman. He kept the world from being cracked in half by Lex Luthor. While I never quite figured out how ol’ Lex was going to make a buck off of that, it seems to me splitting the world in two most definitely would classify as an environmental mishap.

  • The New York Times gave it a scathing review on Monday.

  • Sylvain Galineau

    If this is the gist of the story, it will be forcefully panned. Evil. Politically incorrect. Immoral. Shameful. In fact, and to the extent it can be, it will be ignored.

    How many reviews of Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist in France, for instance ? Enough said.

  • Snorre

    Oh, they’re not all bad in France. Johan Norberg’s In Defence of Global Capitalism actually got good reviews.

  • Snorre

    And for some reason not only won’t the push-buttons work, but even the a-tags turn bad.
    URL: http://www.johannorberg.net/?page=displayblog&month=11&year=2004#655

  • John McVey

    In Australia, The Bulletin magazine this week provided a small booklet (3 by 3 inches, thereabouts, 20 pages or so) as a freebie, publicising the full book with the first few pages of it. I hadn’t intended to read it, but now I will. Thanks, Brian.


  • Julian Morrison

    This is just a typical generational flip-flop. Environmentalism has become the mainstream. Dull people talk about it earnestly, but everything interesting has already been said. You cannot rebel by being an environmentalist. Ergo, it is becoming uncool.

    Be happy – this and a lot of similar trends are all blowing the Libertarian way right now.

  • Will Carrie Fisher be in the film version?

    “Why, you stuck up…half-witted…scruffy-looking NERF-herder!”

  • Bongoplayer

    Well said Julian.

  • The Tom Clancy novel was Rainbow Six. As I recall, one of the conspirators was the US National Science Advisor and a plot that was foiled was the use of the water misting cooling systems used in the public spaces of the Sydney Olympic Games. Ultimately, the point of the novel was terrorists are terrorists, motivation in the end being unimportant.

  • I hope not. This “conservative chic” malarkey makes me cringe.

    Lots of films, action films and the like, are already strongly individualistic. Don’t spoil them.

    The book is pretty turgid, apparently.

  • Don’t hold your breath waiting for Green villains to appear in Hollywood movies.

    The funding for such a project just wouldn’t happen.

    For a piece of total enviro-shit (like The Day After Tomorrow), replete with junk science and Chicken Little nonsense, the funding would be immediate, and lavish.

  • Lionstone

    That New York Times “review” is horrid.
    The author spends most of his time complaining that the book disagrees with him, therefore it must be wrong and it was silly to write to begin with.

    The actual description of the book and storytelling itself suggest that it’s classic Crichton – the good guys are too smart and too lucky, and the bad guys are flamboyantly duplicitous. Nothing we haven’t seen before in, say, Rising Sun.

    The money phrase in the review:
    “‘And I [Crichton] do claim that open and frank discussion of the data, and of the issues, is being suppressed.’ Given these dogmatic assertions…”

    Funny that. Encouraging open and frank discussion of data and issues is now considered “dogmatic”. Hail the Times!

  • Dave F

    It seems obvious to me that Greenpeace is the type of organisation that inspired this. Its spectaculars are very costly yet have pretty well zero effect on “green awareness”, since they belabour the bleedin’ obvious: nuke power bad, oil exploration bad, whaling evil, etc.
    Their fundraising techniques are likewise aggressive and include coldcalling with a ‘tude, as I have experienced. I would think most of the subs would go into budgeting the epic productions, which seem to owe more to Mr I Fleming than environmental concern.

    I wonder how much time the average person spends a day agonising about global warming? Probably zero, I’d guess. And yet there is this avalanche of stuff warning of dire consequences if we ignore it.

    The fact is that people are not that tolerant of doomsaying and never have been. They get on with their lives, because that is the sensible thing to do.

  • As for big budget Hollywood pictures with enviro-villains, remember Ghostbusters? The geeky government official who screws up the space-time continuum is from the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Two Bond villains were apparent greenies: Drax (Moonraker) and Stromberg (The Spy Who Loved Me). Both wanted to destroy humanity, save a select few, and without wrecking nature (undersea nature, in the case of the latter).

    Broccoli really knew how to recycle old plots, didn’t he?

  • In the larger cultural sense, such criticism of the church-of-the-environment is a significant turning point. Heck, even my wife can tell you who Crichton is. This may be as important as Luther nailing his document to the church door, lo those many years ago. -SpinDaddy

  • I’d rather nail an environmentalist to a church door, but perhaps I’m mixing a metaphor or something.

  • Matt

    Crichton’s “Rising Sun” (Japanese businessmen taking over the USA) and “Disclosure” (female exec persecutes male underling when he spurns her advances) were filmed, with the non-PC elements toned down but not eliminated in the way that, for instance, Hollywood refuses to depict Arab terrorist cells or Jewish gangsters.

    Crichton clearly has decided there’s money in going against the liberal media consensus, and he’s rich enough to risk it.