Movies of Special Note

The purpose of my blog entry today is first to share an observation about movie-going in America today and then to make some observations about the exceptional movie we saw last night — “The Help”.

The fact is, we rarely go to movie theaters anymore.  It’s just too easy to wait a few months and rent movies on DVD for much less money.  With Blue Ray, surround sound and large screen televisions, it just makes sense to wait.  Add another reason after our experience at the theater last night.

From the moment we walked in, we were assaulted – that is the word – with a barrage of noise and visual images in rapid succession.  It was pure cacophony.  With the exception of one trailer for an upcoming Steven Spielberg film entitled “War Horse”, every movie seemed to think it necessary to assault our senses with sound and rapid fire images.  It didn’t work for me.  In fact, I felt so assaulted that I wanted to get up and walk out of the theater.  I’ve certainly decided to limit future movie-going to the local art theater.  I have no interest in subjecting myself to such a barrage again.  Is this really what sells movies these days?

The movie we went to see was ‘The Help” and it was marvelous.  It could well win “Best Picture” this year; it will certainly be one of the nominees.  This movie had everything I look for in a movie:  great acting, fine screenplay, outstanding production values and importantly, meaning.  I’ve rarely seen a more meaningful and powerful movie.

There can be little doubt that America still has deep wounds from the legacy of slavery and the oppression of African Americans by white America, wounds that still throb in the American psyche.  How could an injustice so profound and so great not still throb?   I can only hope that in educating all Americans about the dark side of the country’s history that movies such as this expand the national consciousness with the promise of a better and more just America in the future.  One can only hope.  See the movie if you haven’t.  It is a true gem.

There was a rather depressing blurb in the New York Times today about the fact that more people get there news from the internet than from newspapers.  This does not bode well for an informed electorate in the years ahead.  I’d be less concerned if I believed the “internet” from which most are being informed was the mainstream media’s (MSM) online content.  I don’t believe it is, however.  I suspect much of the content comes from other blogs which, like it or not, lack the standards that exist in the MSM.  While I’ve believed for years that the electorate was woefully underinformed by the MSM, that it is now relying on sources with no standards whatsoever is most alarming.    

There’s an interesting article in today’s Washington Post (WP) Business Section entitled Indebted Ever After, authored by Frank Ahrens.  It addresses the new documentary movie I.O.U.S.A., opening in a couple of weeks.  The movie apparently focuses upon David M. Walker, the former head of the Government Accountability Office, who’s been touring the country giving lectures on the coming American debt crisis.  Senator McCain even offered him a job this week should he be elected President.


As I’ve not seen the movie, I limit my comments to what I read in the WP article this morning.  Quoting the article, the movie “is an 87-minute alarum on what it calls the tsunami of debt bearing down on the United States’ future, caused by the rising national deficit, the trade imbalance and the pending costs of baby boomers cashing in on entitlements.”


I bring this up and highlight the movie because a key contributor to this looming financial crisis is our country’s trade imbalance, which is hugely affected by the dollars leaving the country for the purchase of foreign oil for our transportation sector.  We don’t think of this when all we hear from our favorite environmental groups is that “Big Oil” isn’t satisfied with its record profits and wants to defile our coastlines too in its never-ending search for profit, aided by its Republican friends who depend upon “Big Oil” for their campaign contributions. 


I will devote a future column to the distasteful and harmful demagoguery of those who resort to using the term “Big Oil” whenever they want to make a point less on facts than on emotion.  I’ve learned to pretty well give up on learning anything factual from any piece that leads with the words “Big Oil”.  That is not the purpose of any such piece.


My point is that environmental groups aren’t thinking about our trade deficit when they oppose offshore drilling or opening ANWR – that’s not their job – but it is the job of the rest of us (our political leaders especially).  We owe it to the country to carefully scrutinize the claims of the environmental community and stack those claims up against other information which may argue in favor of drilling, such as the gigantic trade deficit exacerbated by oil imports.  We must also consider that environmental groups are not entirely financially neutral.  The more sensational the claim, the easier it is for them to rake in checks from well-meaning contributors.  And the fact is that we’ve essentially given environmental groups veto power on our major energy policy decisions (offshore, ANWR) for years, not scrutinizing their claims but virtually accepting them carte blanch.  That veto power is exercised most powerfully in the votes of most Democrats and Northeast Republicans on Capitol Hill who cannot say no to this most vital political constituency and still win elections.  But because there is so much more at stake we must begin to look harder at the environmental claims and stack them up against other information that would suggest we do take the action being contemplated.   We will often find that we have no other choice.


There is every reason to believe that high energy prices are beginning to cause Americans to think harder about offshore drilling.  It seems that Americans instinctively know that increasing supply is what you do to lower price.  Sure, the effects won’t be immediate, but we have to start somewhere. If we’d commenced this process at the beginning of the Bush Administration we’d be starting to feel the benefits today. 


As I argued in one of my postings yesterday, increased oil and natural gas development need not be antithetical, as most assume, to our objectives in combating climate change.  The key point is that while moving ahead on measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions (Cap and Trade legislation, for instance) and move to alternative fuels, we need to replace the import of foreign oil with domestically produced oil and especially natural gas.   We should also be aware that most of what we’re likely to find offshore will be natural gas, which we need desperately because it is vastly cleaner that coal, or as pointed out in the Pickens Plan could be a wonderful (cleaner) replacement for gasoline in fueling our automobiles.


So, let’s all plan on seeing this movie and let it help move into our consciousness that domestic production isn’t about helping “Big Oil”, it is about helping ourselves.