Published Mar 14, 2013In case the title, Greedy Lying Bastards, wasn't clear enough, Craig Scott Rosebraugh's documentary about climate change and the oil company executives covering it up isn't so much a thought provoking investigative piece as it's an onslaught of snarky comments and finger-snapping bitchiness.
It's the sort of counter-effective work that convolutes an important issue by lacking the grace and maturity necessary to raise awareness and make a difference. Of course, none of this is surprising, since Rosebraugh was also the spokesperson for ELF (Earth Liberation Front), which is known for using violence and guerrilla warfare to prove their "rightness."
Without any actual coherence, this tirade of well-intentioned white noise starts with some information on droughts, then jumps to interviews with the victims of the Colorado Springs wildfires and tries to tie it in with Koch Industries and ExxonMobil. It also rehashes information from superior documentaries Kivalina vs. Exxon and The Island President, as well as a slew of other far more intelligent and mature enviro-docs as of late.
Beyond pointing out that the warming in the Arctic has implications far beyond the village of Kivalina, the main narrative tactic is that of mocking the ignorant. Mitt Romney, James Inhofe, David Koch and Christopher Monckton are all rightly criticized for spreading the seed of doubt about climate change while receiving profits from the oil industry. It's just unfortunate that Rosebraugh's self-important, egocentric style exploits only brief sound bytes and dives into a litany of dismissive voiceover comments from the director, categorizing them all as "greedy, lying bastards." There's an overall lawyerly sense of twisting words to fit his needs.
At no point does Bastards step back to assess the nature of capitalism or the possibility that greed manifests itself in dissimilar ways amongst those with different agendas, and isn't specific to oil executives. Similarly, beyond the redundant, e-based "get involved" agenda, which is the equivalent of liking something on Facebook to prop up your social image, there aren't any solutions offered or even much of a focus to Rosebraugh's incoherent rant.
He notes the symptoms of the problem, but is too narrow-minded to step back and observe any root causes or even explain his hodgepodge of tenuously related documentary material. In the end, the documentarian is guilty of the same sort of solipsism and narcissism as the subjects he criticizes, concerned more so with his career, image and being right than finding a common ground that benefits everyone.
This aspiring activist and filmmaker was most likely better suited for operating his now-closed all-vegan and organic (how amusingly appropriate) restaurant, even though he was criticized for unfair treatment of his employees and not operating by the same values he preached. (Kinosmith)