Friday, June 11, 2010

BP and Avatar

British people and their press are being offended by the characterization of BP (British Petroleum) by the American news media.

I don't have to go into the history of the current outrage over BP, especially since their oil is soaking our coast along the Gulf of Mexico. I watch NBC Nightly News every night and listen to the grim stories of the disaster.

To our British cousins. We still love you, but we don't want any company doing what BP has done. If it were an American company the anger and outpouring of venom would be the same. When the oil tanker, Exxon Valdez, dumped its load in Alaska there was plenty of outrage aimed at that giant American corporation, too. They're still in business, probably bigger and stronger--and more profitable--than ever. I'm sure they don't like the public being reminded of their connection with the tanker spill, but it's in the history books, and part of the public record. British readers, think of how you'd feel if an American company--or anyone else's company for that matter, even BP--was dumping thousands of barrels of oil a day in your water.

Huge corporations like BP are the proverbial tails wagging the dog. They wield so much power because their product is something we need. But like an individual who screws up, when they do they need to be held accountable. What all of this is causing is a firestorm amongst the public, and the flames are being fed by the constant pictures from the Gulf. It's to the dismay of BP shareholders, and the British public, who are taking this as a shot at them directly. 'Taint true.

It's also causing some interesting political backlash. The Tea Party folks, who believe American government is too big, are now calling for American government to step in and rescue us. They use the incident to their own advantage in their hatred of our president. They keep calling for him to do more. More what? He's already been on the Today Show telling Matt Lauer he needs to know whose ass to kick. Sometimes it takes a while to sort all of this out, where and upon whom to level the blame. (P.S., It'll be the least senior members of the organization whose heads will eventually roll. I doubt the CEO and COO of BP will spend a night in jail.)

As the Tea Party and their pointing fingers, do they want Obama in a mini-sub, using the robot arms to plug the leak with the health care bill they hate so much?


Sally and I watched Avatar yesterday. It's been out long enough that the hype has died down, but it struck me that while I watch the news and see a giant corporation being pilloried for its crimes against our environment, Avatar is about a giant corporation raping a pristine environment.

Avatar, when you strip away the amazing special effects and the beautiful flora, the interesting and deadly local fauna of planet Pandora, is an anti-corporation, anti-military movie. The corporation has U.S. Marines do their dirty work against the natives. While U.S. Marines, and soldiers of the U.S. Army back here on planet Earth are fighting and dying in two wars, Avatar is a very high tech reflection of the 1960s counterculture: blame the military/industrial complex for the war, but also blame the individual soldiers for doing what they are ordered.

James Cameron, who wrote and directed Avatar, is, for lack of a better example, the Cecil B. DeMille of the past couple of decades. He makes blockbuster movies that suck in audiences like a vacuum cleaner picks up dirt. I have had my problems with every one of Cameron's movies, but I'm in a minority. His movies really please audiences. I can criticize him for the content, but can't criticize him for knowing what the public wants and how to give it to them.

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