Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Bad Agitprop on FX

I foolishly wasted much of my Monday night watching a horrible piece of agitprop on FX called Oil Storm. The film is a faux documentary that purports to cover the devastating impact of a catastrophic rise in oil prices from September 2005-September 2006. In reality, Oil Storm is so laughably over the top that it cannot be taken seriously by any thinking person. Forget Michael Moore: this movie rivals the ridiculous "documentaries" we used to see in school that warned there would be a new ice age, or that a big earthquake would wipe out San Francisco.

To be charitable, Oil Storm depicts what would be considered a worst case scenario. To put it bluntly, the storyline makes a Michael Bay movie look imaginative and unpredictable. Basically, everything that can go wrong does. A massive hurricane chooses to come ashore right at America's major oil terminal in the Gulf of Mexico, putting it out of commission for an entire year and causing prices at the pump to more than double. The US then cuts a deal with Saudi Arabia to purchase more oil, buying 3 million barrels per day instead of 2 million. Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, who apparently were okay with selling the infidels 2 million bpd, suddenly take offense and stage a major terrorist attack at a Saudi shopping mall that kills over 100 Americans. The fact that the Saudi branch of al-Qaeda isn't exactly the jihadist elite seems to have been ignored by the filmmakers. Anyway, this attack drives oil prices even higher. Now the movie gets really bad.

The events in the movie are depicted in part through "interviews" with people who endured this year of horrors. The main focus is on a "family" in Texas who own a gas station. They have two sons, the eldest is in the Army. As a result of the unrest in Saudi Arabia, the oldest son's unit is deployed to protect the kingdom's main oil terminal at Ras Tanura. Don't worry, he tells his family in a scene captured on "home video" just before he ships out. In other words, the poor kid's dead meat, but more on that later.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, relief appears to be in sight with the arrival of oil tankers at the port of Houston. Of course, the port now is overflowing with ships and can only be reached via a narrow channel. Yeah, if I could guess what was coming next, you can too. Fully loaded oil tanker collides with ship carrying flammable chemicals. Big boom, port closed for a month, prices skyrocket even more.

It's far from a happy holiday season, as the impact of $8.00 a gallon gas ripples throughout the economy. The upcoming winter, of course, just happens to be the worst one on record. In the meantime, back to Saudi Arabia with the poor young soldier who is destined to buy it. I just knew it wouldn't be from some jihadist nutter with an AK-47. It would be a big, Beirut '83 type event, and a lot of his buddies would go with him. The foreordained massacre occurs on Christmas Day while his family is enjoying a church social. The atrocity, which claims the lives of 142 American soldiers and destroys the Ras Tanura facility, is described as a terrorist "RPG attack". This is where Oil Storm truly turns laughable and loses its already tenuous grip on plausibility. The idea that an experienced American combat brigade would be unable to create a secure perimeter beyond RPG range of the oil terminal is ridiculous. What, were our troops just standing in a circle around the oil tanks waiting to be attacked? Having it happen on Christmas was merely the final push over the cliff.

As a result of the Ras Tanura attack, oil goes to over $125 a barrel. Bad winter plus scarce heating oil leads to tens of thousands of deaths from the cold winter. Economic depression, mass unemployment, the federal government drastically cuts spending. In particular, the movie focuses on a 50% cut in agricultural subsidies. In reality, a move like this would win President Bush and Congress the lifetime support of deficit hawks and small government types. In the world of Oil Storm, however, it is depicted as a vicious blow against the noble small farmers, who mobilize under the imaginative slogan "food, not oil". The same film that has "documented" the devastating effects of an oil shortage on our society depicts this call for a return to pastoral bliss approvingly. Mass disorder breaks out, with The Man brutally suppressing peaceful demonstrators and arresting the noble leader of the farmers. Finally, the Bush Administration cuts a deal with Russia for some of their oil, thus ending the crisis. President Bush, in an effort to restore his "deeply tarnished reputation" as the film puts it, restores farm subsidies and orders the Gandhi of the Tractor released from prison. Nevermind that it's actually Congress that controls spending, or that the president has no power to free prisoners held on state charges.

Implicit in the film, as you would expect, is a strong anti-oil message. If only those greedy, short sighted, SUV driving, Bush voting suburbanites had listened to their urban dwelling, ultra-liberal betters, none of these events would have happened. Abandon the evil suburbs and cram into the cities where everyone can take public transportation is the theme of Oil Storm. S. Fred Singer does a nice job of debunking some of the myths that underlie these assumptions. While I'm not a fan of SUVs, preachy, self righteous nonsense like this is enough to make me start saving up for a Hummer. Oh well, at least I still caught the second half of the Pistons game.


Post a Comment

<< Home