The Green religion is dying. You can see the evidence of this in the latest Gallup survey showing the number of Americans who identify as “Environmentalist” down to 42 percent (from 78 percent in 1991). But even more telling, I think, are the glimmers of anti-Green scepticism we’re now starting to see in movieland and on TV.
All right, so Michael Crichton got there first with State of Fear (2005) but that movie would certainly never have slipped under the net if it hadn’t had the creator of Jurassic Park‘s name attached. It’s only in the last couple of years that screenwriters have started to recognise what a good idea it is to choose environmentalists as your bad guys: pure evil draped in cuddly, fluffy sanctimoniousness is drama gold.
See, for example, Kingsman (2014) which cast Samuel L Jackson as an insane Malthusian bent on wiping out most of the human race for the good of the planet; and also Utopia (2013), the genius, black as your hat thriller (insanely nixed after its second series by Channel 4) about a similar “the Earth has a cancer; the cancer is man” type conspiracy.
Now there’s a Nordic Noir TV series I strongly recommend you watch – just out on DVD – called Follow The Money. The Guardian hated it – which is a recommendation in itself. But what’s even better is the reason why I suspect the Guardian hated it: it couldn’t quite get its head around the fact that the bad guys aren’t in Big Oil or the Military Industrial Complex or some faceless corporation. Instead, the baddies work for a renewable energy company with the caring, sharing name Energreen.
This is a brilliant conceit – if, to me, a blindingly obvious one. If you’re going to write a thriller about devious corporate types engaged in a massive conspiracy the obvious place to set it is in the renewable energy sector because – being entirely dependent on government regulation, special favours, compulsion, dodgy data and outright lies – it lends itself so naturally to corruption and intrigue.
It was written by Jeppe Gjervig Gram, creator of Borgen – Denmark’s answer to The West Wing. Disappointingly, it turns out that Gram is not at all anti-green: he actually likes wind farms. So why then, I asked him, did he make his renewable chums the bad guys?
“Because it’s more interesting for me as a writer,” he says “When I was writing Borgen, the scenes I enjoyed most were the ones where the idealistic heroine was forced to do bad things. Watching decent politicians behaving badly is more interesting than watching corrupt politicians behaving badly.”