Crank of the Week - April 9, 2012 – Matt Damon

Hollywood actors, producers and directors are constantly at pains to prove that they are in some way socially relevant. It is not enough to make millions of dollars simply entertaining people, the oh so politically correct members of the Hollywood elite just cannot resist commenting on politics and the environment. When spouting off on talk shows like The View is not enough, these self appointed protectors of the unwashed masses often make entire feature films about topics that bother them—the fact that they know little about the underlying subjects is never a barrier to film making. Case in point, Matt Damon, best know for the trilogy of Bourne spy thrillers, has signed on to do “Promised Land,” a film that hopes to do for fracking what “The China Syndrome” did for the nuclear power industry.

Hollywood leading man, Damon Damon and John Krasinski ("The Office") are set to star in an anti-fracking film called “Promised Land” that is slated to film in Pittsburgh starting at the end of this month and through early June. The controversial Gus Van Sant film is causing a lot of media buzz and recently held a casting call in Pittsburgh. PA. According to local reports, most of those who showed up looking for work on the film knew little about the feature's message.

Damon's agency confirmed to Politico that the actor is slated to star in “The Promised Land,” calling it an “anti-fracking movie” that he co-wrote with actor John Krasinski, based on a draft by Dave Eggers (“Where The Wild Things Are”). The exact plot is being kept secret for now. The IMDB page for the movie offers few details , only that “a salesman experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town.” We would guess that the changes are not for the better. Other members of the cast include Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt, Hal Holbrook and Sara Lindsey.

Wanted, beautiful Pittsburgh people.

Damon is the second person to put an anti-fracking film in the spotlight. Josh Fox is working on “Gasland 2,” a follow-up to his first documentary hit piece about the possible dangers of hydraulic fracturing. Gasland not withstanding, Damon is the latest big Hollywood star to take up the anti-fracking cause. “Environmentalists are giddy over the news that Matt Damon is starring in an anti-fracking film,” reported the Huffington Post. Robert Redford, Debra Winger and Mark Ruffallo have also campaigned against the process, all solid Hollywood tree huggers. The big question is why?

Natural gas is the cleanest of fossil fuels, favored by California, the greenest of American states, for the generation of electricity, at least at night when solar cells don't work or when the wind dies, idling its burgeoning forests of wind turbines. With oil prices rising, gasoline at the pump at historic highs, and increasing tensions in the mid-East, who can find fault with a clean, domestic source of new energy? True, the EPA continues to “discover” new problems with fracking and the gas industry continues to dispute its reports. As this blog has stated in the past, every form of energy has its environments cost. All things considered, fracking to recover natural gas is one of the more benign sources of energy.

Evidently the claim to have an “all of the above” energy policy doesn't extend to natural gas. This flys in the face of the economic boom that natural gas has created in a number of states—one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal economic recovery. At the same time, the public cringes and waits for the next “green energy” company to fail (see “Solar Shakeout Gets Scarier” on the IEEE EnergyWise blog). Is Damon really that desperate for a “cause”?

“So Matt Damon is making an anti-fracking movie. Yay! John Krasinksi will star, no doubt also an expert on this cruel practice that extracts natural gas. Boy, I hope he makes goofy faces like he does on The Office. Adorable!” said Greg Gutfeld, host of the FOX late night show Red Eye and a member of The Five. “But like every film these days it’s just a remake. In the spirit of destroying an industry it harkens back to The China Syndrome, that shrill anti-nuke screed from the ’70s. If you think culture doesn’t shape politics, remember that nuclear power is still recovering from that celebrity-driven smear. Which means you can blame Hollywood for our dependence on oil right now.”

Gutfeld continued his on-air rant against Damon and ‘greenies’:

So why hate fracking? Isn’t it just a horizontal windmill shattering rocks instead of birds? Well, the greenies hate it because it works. Yeah, a funny thing happened on the way to Solyndra: fracking put us toward a path towards energy independence making the green efforts look kind of silly.

And Matt knows we can’t have that. Then America wouldn’t be the bad guy anymore. This one fact alone would eliminate the only major villain in today’s movies. True, with drilling there can be environmental side effects. But there are environmental side effects to everything, including film making. Research has shown that the film industry pollutes like mad thanks to the idling trucks, special effects and set construction. But that’s Hollywood, so never mind.

Gutfeld’s comments on Damon. Source: Fox News.

We here at The Resilient Earth have criticized the often clueless commentary on FOX News in the past, but this time Gutfeld hit the nail on the head. While non-Americans are probably puzzled why people in the US are up in arms over gasoline prices that are still only half of typical EU prices, this issue looms large in the coming Presidential election. At the behest of eco-extreemists and celebrity cronies, the Obama administration continues to suppress the indigenous US oil and gas industry while throwing tax payer dollars at green schemes like Solyndra and Nevada Geothermal Power. Do we really need “The Bourne Fracking!” coming to a theater near you?

Gutfeld concluded his diatribe this way: “Anyway, I think someone must have pumped sand and water through Damon’s head because he certainly exudes enough natural gas to power a small city.” Right on, Greg. So, because Hollywood's hypocrisy and misguided efforts to save the world by the direct application of celebrity-driven stupidity needs to be exposed when ever it crawls out from under the stared sidewalks of tinsel town, this Crank of the Week is for you: Matt Frackin' Damon.

The Frack Identity

I'm new on this site and this is my first comment post.

Consumer activism can be a pest and a lot of the time it's just plain wrong.

The whole thing started back in the 1960's with Ralph Nader and "Unsafe at any speed," an expose of major automobile safety issues. As a result of that book the car you drive today is far, far better in every way than the "accident looking for a place to happen" that the car manufacturers made us drive before that.

Thanks to the activists we don't have lead paint on baby toys, high-radiation computer screens and carcinogens in our food. Activists forced the Japanese to abandon the annual whale hunt last year and are trying to prevent the annual slaughter of dolphins at Taiji. So it's not all bad.

With a controversial subject like fracking, to influence the opinions of your readers you have to be balanced. That means remaining calm and rational and avoiding highly colored language that reveals bias.

Yesterday on the internet I found a picture of the Jonah Field in Wyoming. That's what Shell wants to do to the fragile ecosystem of the Karoo, a semidesert area in the country where I live. When I saw that picture of a landscape mutilated I knew that I was right to oppose fracking--- IN ITS PRESENT FORM.

Activism just may pressure the frackers into devising a better way to extract all that good stuff way down below the surface. That's what it's all about. Humanity only progresses when somebody forces us to.

Please don't ridicule Matt Damon for lending his influential name to the cause.

Thanks for a very interesting site and I'll be spending a lot of time here, learning and discovering.

We call 'em like we see 'em

Sorry, no can do. Damon is just the latest example of a Hollywood personality that has decided his life lacks meaning so he needs to join a cause. This happens a lot to actors, people who make a living pretending to be someone else. They become confused as to who and what they really are. If Matt Damon was really as smart as Good Will Hunting he would actually have the intelligence to understand the complexities of fracking. He would be able to do some research and realize that both oil and natural gas seeps from the ground without any encouragement from man. He would understand the the fractured areas are deep within Earth's crust, usually below many layers of impermeable rock. He would understand that the small contributions made by drilling to gas seepage have practically no effect on nature. But he is not Will Hunting. He is a typical, scientifically naive Hollywood airhead, pursuing lefty loony karma points by making a movie about things he does not understand. We think that deserves a little ridicule. Glad you like the site, if you want to get up to speed quickly you might want to buy the books (links in the left hand column).

Thank you!

Your response to Damon's upcoming film, to be filmed about 10 miles from me on the western edge of Marcellus Shale drilling country, sums up my thoughts as well. I have had conversations many times asking why it is that the people who know the least protest the most, and almost everyone in Hollywood, and Josh Fox, appear to understand the issues the least.

You have a good understanding of how it is a popular movement these days to politicize science and demonize it in Hollywood. Gutfeld's comments were indeed spot-on.

I am glad to see you revisit the issue of shale drilling/fracing/producing once again. Your last post on this topic was a few years ago. Much has changed since then and much has been discovered. In spite of no shortage of easily obtained, objective scientific data, it is popular to perpetuate misinformation and and incorrect conclusions through what is laughingly referred to as a "documentary", internet blogs, published "newsletters" and rallies.

Just this past weekend I had the misfortune of encountering a newsletter that included the incorrect conclusion, once again, of a fish kill on Little Dunkard Creek near Pittsburgh several years ago. It is popular and just plain wrong to attribute the fish kill to frac fluids in the stream, but the truth, which has been published in many different forms, including the Pittsburgh newspapers, is that the stream had been contaminated by acid mine drainage from a coal mine in West Virginia. The truth is so easy to find and yet it is ignored for the sake of drama.

As you say, the extraction of natural gas is not without issues, and accidents happen when people are involved. With few exceptions (only in my personal opinion that is), the companies drilling in PA are very responsible stewards for the environment and care about landowners. (Most of these companies also conduct archaeological investigations prior to building well pads and roads.)

In conclusion, I have to say that I had been looking forward to seeing "The Avengers" this summer. Now that I know Mark Ruffallo is in the movie, I won't bother. Its a damn shame that these Hollywood tree huggers can't seem to find the time to get a real education, but they have all the time in the world to speak out against something they know nothing about.

I am enjoying the interglacial and your website too. Thanks.