Fox News Attacks Muppets, Lorax, And Arrietty As Leftist Propaganda; Cause Of Environmental And Occupy Wall Street Movements

muppets-fox-news-occupy-wall-street-environmentalShortly after The Muppets was released in November 2011, Fox News attacked the film for its liberal agenda. The film was described as anti-corporate, anti-oil industry, and ultimately, The Muppets were called communist. What was the cause of these attacks? The villain in the film, an oil baron named Tex Richman, attempts to destroy the Muppet’s old theatre in order drill for an oil reserve beneath it.

“It’s amazing how far the left will go just to manipulate your kids, to convince them, give the anti-corporate message,” said Dan Gainor of the conservative Media Research Center. He then proceeded to blame The Muppets and its predecessors, including Captain Planet, Nickelodeon’s Big Green Help, and Cars 2 among others, for the Occupy Wall Street and environmental movements.

The Muppets are not environmentalists, and not fighting against Tex Richman solely because he is in the oil industry—the heroes of the story never use the fact that Richman is an oil baron as a means to insult him. The claim that the Muppets are communist is markedly inappropriate—communism is defined as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, stateless and socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production. In the Muppets’ battle against Tex Richman for the ownership of the Muppet’s theatre, not a single one of these themes are promoted.

Fox News neglects to mention even one of the numerous positive messages of the film. Valuable lessons for children demonstrated in the film include the rewards of following dreams, teamwork, celebrating differences, perseverance, love and support between brothers, forgiveness, and the values of friendship, among others. Fox News host Eric Bolling later apologized for calling the Muppets anti-capitalist.

Fox News turned the attack towards two new films in February 2012, however. This time, Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax came under fire for trying to make what Matt Patrick of the Matt Patrick Show called “occu-toddlers”. Once again, Fox News incorrectly tied environmental stewardship to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Fox News claims that The Secret World of Arrietty is about the redistribution of wealth and encourages envy between economic classes. Fox featured a clip of Arrietty, the main character of the film, explaining what a borrower is to her human friend, Shawn.

“My mother, father and I are all borrowers. We borrow things like soap and cookies and sugar—things that (humans) don’t miss if they’re gone.”

Lou Dobbs responded by claiming that “Hollywood is once again trying to indoctrinate our children”. The Secret of Arrietty film was originally created in Japan, and is based off of the 1952 novel, The Borrowers, written by English author Mary Norton. Disney’s main role in the film was to dub English voices for its U.S. release. Given the international roots of its storyline, this film isn’t appropriate to stereotype Hollywood. In addition, the items that the borrowers steal go unnoticed for decades until Shawn physically sees a borrower taking a tissue in his room. It is doubtful that money is a fair substitute for the items the borrowers take, as missing monetary funds would be much more noticeable.

The Lorax is equally blamed by Fox News for contributing to the creation of “occu-toddlers”, however, environmental stewardship is not the purpose of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, which focuses on income inequality and wealth distribution. In order to combat the pro-conservation and anti-corporate messaging in The Lorax, Matt Patrick encouraged moviegoers to purchase a lot of food products and leave their trash on the floors of the theatre. Once again, any positive themes of The Secret World of Arrietty and The Lorax were completely ignored.

While one if not more of the three movies attacked have pro-environmental and/or anti-corporate greed messaging, Fox News has completely ignored any virtues of the films, used incorrect terminology to characterize them, and has wrongfully blamed pro-environmental messaging in children’s movies as the cause of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. These films aren’t appropriate to “blame” for the environmental movement either—the environmental movement began well before the invention of the television, and has had many positive impacts on the United States, such as the creation of its National Parks. 

If you believe The Muppets, The Secret World of Arrietty, and The Lorax have positive messaging and more films like them should be made, be sure to spread the word. If you disagree with the claims made by Fox News about these films, you can let them know here.

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“The Last Mountain” Takes a Look at Trouble in the Appalachians

Debuting as a part of the Sundance Film Festival’s Official Selection, director Bill Haney’s documentary, “The Last Mountain,” takes aim at a battle being waged deep in the valleys of the Appalachian Mountains.

The fighters, in this case, are the behemoth Big Coal industry against the ordinary citizens living next door—proving that fights that are worth fighting are not always fair.

Haney and his camera follow the true story of the underdog citizens of the Coal River Valley, West Virginia, who have become unwilling proponents in a fight that in many ways seems much bigger than they.

The culprit in this case is Massey Energy, the third largest coal company in the country, and the questionable mining techniques that they employ.  Referred to as a “mountaintop removal” process, this abrasive method involves the use of dynamite sticks and explosives to blast away the tops of mountains in order to locate layers of coal underneath and extract it.

Massey Energy seems to have everything going in their favor—with crafty wording in the Clean Water Act permitting the practice to continue.  Additionally, this highly profitable business has millions of dollars at their disposal to ensure that efforts to stop the mining will be shut down quickly.  In a world of pulled strings, Massey Energy reigns supreme with little to no accountability for their actions.

These actions have all but paralyzed the surrounding communities, leaving them nothing but wastelands with severe pollution and devastating health risks as their main concerns.

The practice of this mountaintop removal has been proven to have detrimental effects to the people living in the area. As tons and tons of mountain and (the harmful metals contained within them) are displaced, it eventually finds its way into water ways and eventually into the water that they drink, poisoning all who depend on it.  

Nearby communities have been plagued with growing cancer rates, and in some areas where the water contamination has become so high, brain tumors have been detected in both adults and children.

So where does that leave Massey Energy? After an astounding 60,000 health and safety violations slapped against them in the last decade, they remain relatively unscathed.  The monetary fines are just a small fraction—a hiccough—for the company and the huge amounts of profits that they turn. Where deeper pockets pull the strings, Massey Energy carries little to no accountability for their crimes.

In a scenario similar to that of Erin Brockovich versus Pacific Gas and Electric, Haney highlights the efforts of activists like Maria Gunnoe and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  With the clock ticking to save their mountains, they along with other concerned citizens plead for the removal of this energy giant and their devastating tactics from their home.

 “The Last Mountain” explains that this is more than just a battle between environmentalists and big business—but a fight for a people’s health and survival.

But as the filmmakers show, it is more than just ridding the land of a certain type of evil.  It becomes a story about our society’s dependence on fossil fuels and reluctance to change.  As Kennedy, Jr. points out, these areas could become prime points to install wind turbines to help bring a cleaner burning and safer energy source to the area…if it were only done.

It is in times like these that we can show how responsible we need to be for our future. In the words of Haney, the film itself has become “the uplifting story of the power of ordinary citizens to remake the future when they have the determination and courage to do so.”

“The Last Mountain,” is currently in select theaters. For a closer look at the documentary and its message, check out their website

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Oscars Go Green With Environmentally Themed Nominees

February 25, 2011 – By Mason Williams

Environmentally themed movies will play a larger than usual role at the Academy Awards this weekend. Five different films nominated for awards have green related messages. Those films include Let’s Pollute, Gasland, Wasteland, Sun Come Up, and The Warriors of Qiugang. Here is some more information about these eco-themed films: 

1. Let’s Pollute

Let’s Pollute is an animated short film that parodies the “time-honored tradition of polluting” by using 1950’s and 1960’s style educational films. Let’s Pollute is up for the Short Film (Animated) Award.

2. Gasland

Gasland is a documentary film that looks at American communities effected by natural gas exploration, specifically due to the process known as hydraulic fracturing. This documentary has already permeated into popular culture through its disturbing images of lighting tap water on fire. Gasland is up for the best Documentary Feature Award.

3. Wasteland

Wasteland is a documentary that follows modern artist Vik Muniz, who works with garbage pickers at a giant Rio de Janeiro landfill.  The film looks at not only Muniz’s art, but also examines the lives of this group of people who spend their days picking garbage. Wasteland is up for the best Documentary Feature Award.

4. Sun Come Up

Sun Come Up is a documentary that looks at the effects of climate change on the South Pacific Carteret Islands, which could become uninhabitable by rising ocean waters by 2015. Sun Come Up is nominated for the Documentary Short Subject Award.

5. The Warriors of Qiugang

The Warriors of Qiugang looks at the small Chinese village of Qiugang, which was being poisoned by the pollution from a series of local chemical plants. The film shows how the villages fought back against the companies responsible for the pollution. The Warriors of Qiugang is up for the best Documentary Short Subject Award.

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Dolphins Win Big At Oscars

Los Angeles, California (March 10) – Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony was not just a big night for fashion and entertainment. It also helped to bring light to an environmental topic from the dark ocean depths. The Cove received an Oscar for Best Feature Documentary, an honor which will help bring awareness to the controversial issue of dolphin capture and slaughter.

In The Cove, director Louie Psihoyos takes the viewer to the Japanese coastal village of Taiji and follows as a team of freedivers, activist and filmmakers covertly reveal a cultural practice of rounding up dolphins into a cove, whether to provide dangerously mercury-laden meat or to bring in commercial entertainment dollars as performers. The film also features dolphin activist Ric O’Barry, who trained the dolphins used on the television show Flipper before redirecting his efforts during the last thirty-eight years to freeing dolphins from captivity.

The annual dolphin hunt involves rounding up and harpooning about 2,000 dolphins annually, where each animal can be sold for $500. Japan has defended the practice as a food tradition being conducted in a legal and appropriate manner and questions the scientific determinations reported in the film, particularly concerning the mercury content of dolphin meat and it’s consumption by Japanese children. The village of Taiji has a population of 3,800 and claims to be the birthplace of the Japanese commercial whaling industry.

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Though haunting in its imagery, the film is a well-told story with a purpose to inspire the audience into activism and protection of all graceful and intelligent marine life. The Cove has been recognized for its powerful style and message throughout the year, receiving awards for best documentary of 2009 from Environmental Media Award and National Board of Review as well as a Critics Choice Award and three Cinema Eye Awards in New York. Producers Fisher Stevens and Paula DuPres Presman were also acknowledged by the Producers Guild of America. Furniture maker IKEA even created a special edition ‘Klippan’ sofa cover using The Cove as inspiration after awarding the film the IKEA Green Prize at the Rome International Film Festival.

The documentary’s focus is particularly impactful considering the recent tragic death of Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau by captive killer whale Tillikum. The filmmakers continued their quest to free the dolphins even during the acceptance speech for their Oscar by holding up a banner that read ‘Text Dolphin to 44144’ as a means for the audience to learn about and take part in their cause of discontinuing the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan. The New York Times reports that Japan has reacted to the film’s success by threatening legal action. The film only recently gained permission to be shown in Japan in April, where the director hopes that the Japanese people will decide to stop supporting this cultural practice.

Cable channel Animal Planet plans to screen the feature later this year. Plans for a television series version of The Cove are also under production for the network by Mr. O’Barry and his son. The film’s creators continue their activism in the wake of their win, as a March 8, 2010 New York Times article reported the group’s exposure a California restaurant’s illegal practice of serving whale meat. Santa Monica sushi restaurant The Hump could face $200,000 in fines and a prison time if those involved are convicted of possession or sale of marine mammals in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Congratulations to The Cove creators for their success in both filmmaking and raising environmental awareness. Dolphins everywhere can swim a little easier tonight.

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