Toxic Tropes

About a year ago I started writing about how environmentalists were portrayed in scripted entertainment . In their new fall issue, Sierra Magazine allowed me to write 1,400 words on the subject for their Critic’s Notebook section. To that end, I put together some clips to visually demonstrate my point. Enjoy.

Can Hollywood get beyond its stereotypical portrayals of environmentalists?

Previously published in Sierra Magazine Looking back, it seems the problem started with Ghostbusters. In the 1984 blockbuster comedy, William Atherton plays Environmental Protection Agency investigator Walter Peck. Alarmed by media reports about the Ghostbusters’ shenanigans, Peck stops by their headquarters, looking for “the presence of noxious, possibly hazardous-waste chemicals.” Ghostbuster Peter Venkman, played by Bill …

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The Full Future

I Talk With the Creator of Apple TV+’s New Series on Climate Change Last week I had the opportunity to review Apple TV’s new climate change series Extrapolations for Sierra Magazine. The assignment included talking with show creator Scott Z. Burns. Burns is best known for producing An Inconvenient Truth and writing the scripts for Contagion and The Bourne Identity. Burns had a …

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You Can’t Say Hollywood Doesn’t Recycle

Despite a Twister Remake, the Climate Crisis is Still Woefully Underrepresented Onscreen. A recent report created in partnership by the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center and Good Energy Stories contains sobering news. Only 2.8% of the 37,453 scripted TV shows and movies released between 2016 and 2020 mentioned climate change. Contrast that with a Pew poll showing two thirds of Americans …

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Live Green or Die Hard

Experts weigh in on environmentalists’ negative portrayals in scripted entertainment. In early October I took a light-hearted look at the recent spate of green-minded comic book villains adapted for the big screen. The more I dug around, I found overwhelming evidence that environmentalist are often portrayed in scripted entertainment as the bad guy, a punchline, …

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Walter Peck Ghostbusters

We Don’t Need Another Green Anti-Hero

When was the last time a movie portrayed a fictional environmentalist as anything other than a villain, a punchline, a scold, or all three? Environmentalists can’t catch a break. Not in the literal sense. Not like how the ghoulish politicians responsible for the Flint water crisis escaped accountability for poisoning children with toxic lead. Or how a …

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Reviewed: Convention at Silverdocs

Previously published at the Washington DC City Paper. Convention is an entertaining look at the nuts and bolts of the 2008 Denver National Democratic Convention that nominated Barrack Obama for president. It does not focus on the minutiae, like the number of chicken wings consumed or number of plastic blue bracelets exchanged for bodily fluids, nor does it deconstruct the nominating …

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Sundance Review: It Might Get Loud

Previously published at the Washington DC City Paper. The Sundance Film festival is as much a showcase for documentaries as it is a venue for edgy independent fare. Hoop Dreams, Supersize Me, and An Inconvenient Truth all captured initial buzz from the mountain town festival. The director of Oscar winning Truth, Davis Guggenheim, brought a new film to this year’s festival. It Might Get Loud chronicles …

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