Published Jan 19, 2013In detailing the many ways in which nuclear energy is the cleanest, most pragmatic, source of power on the planet, noting the forecasted increase in demand over the next few decades, Robert Stone's documentary, Pandora's Promise, uses the framing advice of ex-anti-nuclear converts. Published talking heads Michael Shellenberger, Mark Lynas, Gwyneth Cravens and Stewart Brand talk about their past dalliance with anti-nuclear ethos, citing knowledge and tenuous discernment as the impetus for ideological change.
As Lynas travels to Fukushima and Chernobyl to take radiation readings, a brief breakdown of nuclear energy speeds by, speculating that Hollywood scare tactics and widely broadcast testing was the central motivator for widespread social anxiety. "Duck and cover" drills and the advertised environmental impact of various nuclear breakdowns are also cited.
But what Stone attacks most in this exceedingly formulaic, yet professionally made, propaganda doc of sorts, is that the main instigator is that of idealism. Those that use worldview and political issues as a signifier of their own identity will gravitate towards a platform that makes them look the best, which is why fighting against things that appear "bad" is a logical progression of their identity performance.
This cultural assessment in itself is quite astute and intriguing, but it's most eschewed for talking points—and thankfully, some actual statistics—to point out why being pro-nuclear is "right." In this sense, the template of unconventional thinking is ultimately made conventional by sheer mode of communication. Little about Pandora's Promise is distinct from the abundance of similar pedagogical enviro-docs of late. The structure and the voice—complete with recognizable pop culture inserts such as a Simpsons nuclear breakdown—is little more than that status quo by this point.
As such, it's amusing to witness the attempted countering of the observation that widespread nuclear technology means widespread ability to create nuclear arms with an unrelated commentary on how the Americans bought most of the Russian nukes to create clean American energy. It's like a, "look at this shiny object," approach to argument. (Impact Pictures)