Hollywood’s release of the new movie, “Promised Land,” starring Matt Damon and Josh Krasinski, brings awareness to the controversial natural gas drilling method known as “fracking.”
News of the movie’s inception began stirring the political pot several months ago, but the film’s Dec. 28 release sparked more controversy. According to recent news reports, one of the production companies involved in making the film is Imagination Abu Dhabi FZ, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media.
“Abu Dhabi Media is owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates is part of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). For a movie about ulterior motives, it’s questionable to have even a superficial link to a company related to a country that has a vested interest in making sure that America can’t rely on its own natural resources.”
The term fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, refers to a drilling method that involves fracturing rock by blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into shale formations deep underground to release natural gas reserves.
According to EnergyInDepth.org, “the history of fracturing technology’s safe use in America extends all the way back to the Truman administration, with more than 1.2 million wells completed via the process since 1947.”
The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg wrote that by 2015, the United States is expected to be the top global producer of natural gas because of the technique.
The growing debate, however, encompasses a plethora of issues, from public health concerns to private property rights.
Preventing drilling rigs, waste-injection wells or other gas and oil infrastructure from being placed near communities has become a mission for anti-fracking groups like Frackfree America.
A few dozen members of the organization held a protest in Youngstown, Ohio, to coincide with the movie’s release date, hoping to educate the public on what they deem is drilling’s negative side, according to WYTV news.
A Fox News Business anchor asked former Shell Oil CEO John Hofmeister to comment on concerns that the White House will use the next Environmental Protection Agency administrator to conduct a “war on fracking.”
Businesses are frustrated because they already have to adhere to strict zoning and other land-use regulations, and are now faced with fighting additional mandates from agencies like the EPA.
Hofmeister responded in the following clip:
As for the film, critics appear to be having a tough time separating the propaganda from the entertainment value to render a review. One film critic Drew Taylor of Moviefone even admitted that on the movie’s “press day,” he was explicitly told by promoters told not to focus on the controversial subject matter.
Another critic, Jordan Magrath, noted the “one-sided” depiction of the issue:
Promised Land is far from flaming political propaganda. However, it’s also far from being free of a particular agenda. I’m personally very interested in rhetoric, but I believe both sides deserve a fair shot. This movie doesn’t give both sides a fair shake, and despite Matt Damon and John Krasinski’s thoughtful script (and subsequent performances), a pretty good twist, and initially-developed characters, the movie crams its politics down our throats. This much I can’t appreciate.
“Using film to advocate for one side of an issue or another is a tricky business,” critic Scott Tobias said. “‘If you want to send a message, try Western Union’ goes the famous Frank Capra quote.”