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Posts Tagged ‘Ed Begley Jr.’

SpiroFlo discusses “An Inconvenient Sequel” and how resistance to Al Gore correlates to resistance to environmental efforts.

*I’ll apologize in advance for the agonizing over-use of “inconvenient” in this article (lay-up title included).

When “An Inconvenient Truth” came out in 2006, it had buzz. I heard about it in environmental circles (with the hope that it would get more people involved with green thinking) and it was well received by from critics and moviegoers alike. This time around, however, the overall impact seems, well, less:

  • While “An Inconvenient Truth” received a fresh 93% critics approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” earned 77%. Still positive, but less so.
  • Likewise, “An Inconvenient Truth” received a fresh 78% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “An Inconvenient Sequel” earned a rotten 43%.
  • On Metacritic, the critic spread was 75 (out of 100) to 67, but the audience score spread (which, for some reason, switches to a 1 to 10 score) is 8.1 for the first movie, but a mere 5.8 for the second. More on that later.

Obviously, only being a couple of weeks into its theater-wide release means it’s too early to tell how well “An Inconvenient Sequel” will do long-term, but as of this writing, it’s nearing only $1.1 million at the box office. It is unlikely that it will surpass the $23.8 million the first one earned.

You can blame several factors. Maybe it’s that sequels are usually worse (shhh, “Aliens” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” we’re not talking about you). Maybe it’s that modern Hollywood seems insistent on releasing sequels long after people have lost interest. Or maybe it’s that “An Inconvenient Sequel” is on a limited release, but, given the success of the first, they should have led with more marketing and a wide release, and sequels (while typically being worse) usually make more money.

But more than anything, I blame the backlash on Al Gore.

Frankly, there’s no shortage of clueless celebrities to grill for the hypocrisy of calling for a greener approach to living while lavishly ignoring that advice for themselves:

This isn’t to say all green advocate celebrities are automatically fake. People consider Ed Begley Jr. a nut for all the environmental innovations (and life limitations) he’ll take on himself, but he walks the walk when it comes to green living. But Al Gore? Al Gore’s been easy to criticize for a long time. I believe his interest in environmental issues comes from a genuine place (starting in the mid-1970s) and he had a level of interest in promoting those values throughout his political career. However, many people believe that Gore’s interest in green issues only took off when he lost the 2000 Presidential election. That may be true, but I don’t fault anyone for pursuing a different existing passion once their current career doorway slams shut.

I also don’t think it’s completely fair to criticize Gore for making money off “An Inconvenient Truth.” Few knew that it’d be the popular, financial success it was. The pro-environmental landscape wasn’t nearly as set in 2006, and, if anything, “An Inconvenient Truth” helped cement it. The key thing is that the majority of Al Gore’s wealth came from, A) his membership on the Apple Board; and B) the sale of his Current TV network. While the former may seem like a prized position, it’s the latter move that hollowed out Gore’s environmentalist character.

While I commented on this at the start of 2013, here’s the basics:

(A)s of January 2nd, 2013, Current was sold to Al Jazeera for $500 million.

Yeah, the Al Jazeera that, up until 2011, was owned by the government of Qatar—a large oil player. Al Jazeera has also had its fair share of worldwide criticism and controversies, as well as having to deal with attacks and censorship.

Gore’s take of the Current sale was $100 million (before taxes), bringing his personal fortune up to $300 million.

Criticism of Gore, even from Current TV staff, was extensive, as it was seen as wrong to sell a network with a greener slant to a large oil player. However, others noted that Current TV was always subsidized, now it’d just be subsidized by the government of Qatar while paying off the guy at the top. Gore spent some of his earnings on, you guessed it, Apple stock, and was largely able to escape mainstream scathing in public interviews.

Fast-forward a decade and it seems “An Inconvenient Sequel” will flop at the box office. At least part of the problem is that “An Inconvenient Sequel” doesn’t do a great job of explaining the predictions that “An Inconvenient Truth” got wrong. (Catastrophically rising sea levels, the arctic melting, and polar bears going extinct were the most commonly cited examples.) While the rebuttal should simply be, “That was 2006; we’ve learned a lot since then and we can’t exactly go back and put in updated footnotes on a movie,” climate change proponents put themselves in a corner by asserting that the science is settled on global warming. Thus, any acknowledgement that past assertions were wrong shreds that hardline stance (but that’s a whole ‘nother blog).

This time around, people aren’t even watching “An Inconvenient Sequel” to criticize it (if the low user ratings to low box office numbers ratio is to be believed—a week ago, the Metacritic user rating was a dire 3.6 out of 10 [up to 5.8 since then]). Instead, it’s Al Gore that’s got the target on his back. The arguments aren’t even new: I’ve seen this story again—Al Gore’s home consumes 34 times more energy than the average American!—but the same story made the rounds in 2007 (it was only 21 times more energy then). While Snopes views the claim as a mixed bag, it notes, “the basic gist of the claim — that the Gores’ Nashville residence consumed a larger proportion of energy than the average American home — was true.” I first heard that story a decade back when “An Inconvenient Truth” was still popular. You know why I didn’t see it often from 2008 to 2016? Because “An Inconvenient Sequel” didn’t release until 2017. Now that Al Gore is back in the spotlight, his criticism is back there, too.

It’s simple: You devalue the spokesman and you devalue the message, and frankly, Al Gore is an easy enough target that he’s doing damage to environmentalism messaging by proxy. While it may be inconvenient to Al Gore, for green messaging to get stronger, the easy criticism targets need to be set aside.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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