The movie Gasland by Josh Fox attracted my attention to the issue of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” It provided me with some relevant information and made the problem tangible: the personal stories, shocking imagery, and the materials compilation appeal to the emotions. The film also encouraged me to research the issue; in particular, I studied the article by Bateman.
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Fracking is a story to be told and remembered: a resource-consuming toxic waste-producing method of getting an exhaustible resource in great quantities with the side effect of chemical and radioactive contamination of everything in the vicinity, in particular, underground water (Bateman par. 12-13). Naturally, I am not a specialist, and I may be mistaken in my relative estimation of the value of gas and water for human beings, but in any case, the description indicates that this method requires great caution and control, which explains the need for telling people about this situation.
However, a different issue was of especial concern to me and probably for Fox and Bateman as well. It is the problem of the antagonism of the interests of industries and the nation. It is not a new conflict, but the fact that the gas industry got exempt from the duty of protecting the people of their own country makes the issue especially disturbing. This kind of knowledge makes you understand that we still did not begin to treat the environment in a rational way.
Naturally, the environment is a resource (just like people are); it will be used because this is how we survive, but the process needs to be managed properly. Ruining, wasting, and contaminating the environment is probably the opposite of proper management. It seems so obvious, apparent, and rehearsed, that it should have already become a shaping factor of our behavior. A modern human thinks sustainably! Sometimes.
Naturally, the ecologists are expected to think this way, and it is only logical to delegate crucial decisions to the specialists. However, in the case of fracking, everything was done not to delegate the decision to those who could make it. The apparent conclusion is that humans are still too prone to greed and do not realize the fact that they rob their own grandchildren.
I have always been a little cautious with documentaries, and it is one of the reasons for my choice to explore the topic more. Documentaries are supposed to be a credible source of information, but they also have every opportunity to manipulate the facts for the best of impressions. In Gasland, I was introduced to the shaky camera, occasional blurring of the picture, ominous sound effects, and emotional appeal techniques. They do not necessarily exclude the possibility of credibility but may cause some distrust.
At the same time, I understand that these techniques can be considered artistic and contribute to the mood. Also, the issue of the antagonism between industry and nature and the problem of the people’s needs, health, and lives being sacrificed for money are, unfortunately, too realistic to allow doubting Gasland. I know that there have been debates on the credibility of some of the imagery, but I lack the level of expertise to judge it. I will probably trust that the director had researched the issue dutifully and with the noble aim of helping the people involved.
From what I have seen, read, and heard, they need it. Moreover, we need it since the gas industry is definitely not the only one that produces enough profit to be able to buy the privilege of knowingly, willingly harming people and the environment. This privilege can only be placed out of reach if the relevant information is made public, and this, in my opinion, is the purpose of documentary movies like Gasland. Therefore, providing inaccurate information is against their goal, and I believe that Josh Fox knows it.
Bateman, Christopher. “A Colossal Fracking Mess.” Vanity Fair News. 2010. Web.
Gasland. Dir. Josh Fox. HBO, 2010. Film.