Hollywood’s October Surprise

It is predictable that in the end phases of the 2016 election Hollywood will try to shape public perceptions. The outcome is unknown at present, but the basic shape of the debate is emerging. The opening battle will take place on September 30th when the new film Deepwater Horizon opens. The film is “inspired by the true story” of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform blowout and oil spill. That means the filmmakers have taken artistic license with the true story. The teaser trailer is now at a theater near you.

 

We know the film is going to get a huge promotion for the opening. It stars Mark Wahlberg and was directed by Peter Berg, who previously made Lone Survivor. It has a glittering cast including Kurt Russell, working with his stepdaughter Kate Hudson for the first time. For the millennial crowd there are Gina Rodriguez and Dylan O’Brien. Older fans will be excited by the inclusion of John Malkovich. All of the media will be out for this event, from the broadcast networks, the cable news networks, the entertainment news, even (or especially) TMZ.  

Ready or not, there will be a media feeding frenzy. And as the film is based on a true events that riveted the attention of people globally for three months, all of those media outlets have track records they can be expected to defend, whether their work was worthy of praise or disdain. Just as candidates have to run on their records, this event will force the media the run on their own records. While some of the reporting stands the test of time, much does not. Do you remember Bill Clinton discussing blowing up the well to plug the leak? If Hillary Clinton gets the Democrats’ nomination, you can be sure someone will ask her about her husband’s contribution to attempting to solve the worst oil spill in American history.

While the details of the story are still secret, we can reasonably infer how the film might unfold. The tagline is “When faced with our darkest hour, hope is not a tactic.”  The theme seems to be one of whether or not “…to take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them.” That is a classic dramatic meme. So we can reasonably expect an inspirational, feel good movie.

We can also check the full cast listing to get some hints. Mark Wahlberg stars as the real life electrical technician aboard the Deepwater Horizon, Mike Williams. Given that Mr. Williams has appeared on 60 Minutes and given sworn testimony to the Joint Investigation Team from the Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service, we have a pretty clear idea of his perspective. Of the nineteen characters who are listed in the credits with a last name, not just a first name or job description, we can see that most are the members of the crew who died in the accident. So we can infer that the movie will be favorable toward blue-collar workers, most of them men, most of those white men.

That happens to be a demographic much in the political news this year. If that demographic segment turns out for the movie the way they have turned out for Donald Trump, and the millennials join them, Lionsgate Films may have found a worthy successor to The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games.

While we know that no battle plan in the Culture Wars will survive first contact with the enemy, we can take heart that the film seems likely to reject “hope and change” as a tactic. A strategic alliance with the filmmakers seems to be a winning strategy. We can expect to face “the usual suspects” who will try to leverage terrible memories of the tragedy of the oil spill. The Obama administration, the Democrats, the environmentalists, the Green Energy crowd, even Oscar Winner Al Gore can be expected to take the field against us. We can be sure that they will use Rahm Emanuel’s dictum, “never let a crisis go to waste” and do their utmost to sway voters to their side.

The solution I would propose is to use truth as our weapon of choice. The vast majority of voters have a very low opinion of the veracity of the media. Ordinarily, the media serves as an echo chamber for “progressives,” That needs to change. There is no time like the present. If you want to change behavior, you should reward good behavior and punish bad behavior. With the benefit of time, it is easy to determine when the media got the story right and when they toed the progressive political line.

To see the few times they got it right, let us start by looking at CBS, particularly the 60 Minutes report by Scott Pelley featuring Mr. Williams. It was an absorbing, a first person account by a man who has a mission -- to prevent a recurrence. No wonder it caught the attention of the Hollywood scriptwriters. It tells the travails of a man whom John Cameron Swayze might have described as someone who “took a licking, but kept on ticking.”  But in the end, Mr. Williams himself needed to be rescued. After jumping into the sea with fire on the rig and burning oil on the water, he was pulled to safety by the Fast Response Craft from the DAMON B BANKSTON. Dateline NBC picks up the story and introduces us to the real life heroes of the tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that is what real heroes look like. Chief Engineer Anthony Gervasio and Qmed Louis Longlois, a rigger, took their little sixteen-foot boat and drove toward the fire repeatedly. Of the 115 total survivors, all of those who did not get off the rig in one of the two lifeboats directly owe their lives to those two men. My hint to the filmmakers is to make sure both of them are invited to the premier.

Even the Coast Guard, which was the government department with direct responsibility for organizing the Search and Rescue operation, recognized that the private sector beat them to the scene. On April 15, 2011 USCG Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara personally presented the certificate of valor and distinguished public service award to nine members of the crew of the DAMON B BANKSTON, with the other four being honored in absentia, and about two dozen helicopter pilots, rescue swimmers and other Coast Guard personnel who responded to the April 20 disaster. From a GCaptain.com report we learn:

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Craig Murray, one of the pilots of the first helicopter to arrive, said he is certain more workers would have perished that night if the Bankston’s crew hadn’t been there to act.

“They are the true heroes,” Murray said.

The crowd at Friday’s ceremony observed a moment of silence for the 11 workers who died in the blast. Photographs of each victim adorned a poster in front of the stage.

From the Tidewater Marine website we get more details.

On April 15, 2011, the United States Eighth Coast Guard District presented outstanding achievement awards to the crew of the M/V Damon B Bankston for their heroic search and rescue efforts immediately following the catastrophic explosion and fire onboard the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010.  Captain Alwin Landry was presented the Certificate of Valor, Qmed, Louis Longlois received the Silver Lifesaving Medal, Chief Engineer, Anthony Gervasio received the Gold Lifesaving Medal, and the entire crew received the Distinguished Public Service Award.

So Hollywood does mimic real life. But as the saying goes, “You just can’t make this stuff up.”

If anyone is looking for a photo-op with a couple of true heroes, maybe they could try to get the bashful Anthony Gervasio along with his partner Mr. Longlois to come out in public for the presentation of the USCG Gold and Silver Lifesaving Medals they were awarded.. Opening night might be appropriate.

Hollywood recently made a film, The Finest Hours, about another Gold Lifesaving Medal recipient, Boatswain Mate First Class Bernard C. Webber. Maybe there is a sequel on that list of medal recipients. Who knows, maybe Gina Rodriguez would like to play Ida Lewis. They just don’t seem to make heroines like they used to. This could even start a trend of recognizing hard working Americans with real jobs, not just Washington pundits.

It is predictable that in the end phases of the 2016 election Hollywood will try to shape public perceptions. The outcome is unknown at present, but the basic shape of the debate is emerging. The opening battle will take place on September 30th when the new film Deepwater Horizon opens. The film is “inspired by the true story” of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform blowout and oil spill. That means the filmmakers have taken artistic license with the true story. The teaser trailer is now at a theater near you.

 

We know the film is going to get a huge promotion for the opening. It stars Mark Wahlberg and was directed by Peter Berg, who previously made Lone Survivor. It has a glittering cast including Kurt Russell, working with his stepdaughter Kate Hudson for the first time. For the millennial crowd there are Gina Rodriguez and Dylan O’Brien. Older fans will be excited by the inclusion of John Malkovich. All of the media will be out for this event, from the broadcast networks, the cable news networks, the entertainment news, even (or especially) TMZ.  

Ready or not, there will be a media feeding frenzy. And as the film is based on a true events that riveted the attention of people globally for three months, all of those media outlets have track records they can be expected to defend, whether their work was worthy of praise or disdain. Just as candidates have to run on their records, this event will force the media the run on their own records. While some of the reporting stands the test of time, much does not. Do you remember Bill Clinton discussing blowing up the well to plug the leak? If Hillary Clinton gets the Democrats’ nomination, you can be sure someone will ask her about her husband’s contribution to attempting to solve the worst oil spill in American history.

While the details of the story are still secret, we can reasonably infer how the film might unfold. The tagline is “When faced with our darkest hour, hope is not a tactic.”  The theme seems to be one of whether or not “…to take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them.” That is a classic dramatic meme. So we can reasonably expect an inspirational, feel good movie.

We can also check the full cast listing to get some hints. Mark Wahlberg stars as the real life electrical technician aboard the Deepwater Horizon, Mike Williams. Given that Mr. Williams has appeared on 60 Minutes and given sworn testimony to the Joint Investigation Team from the Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service, we have a pretty clear idea of his perspective. Of the nineteen characters who are listed in the credits with a last name, not just a first name or job description, we can see that most are the members of the crew who died in the accident. So we can infer that the movie will be favorable toward blue-collar workers, most of them men, most of those white men.

That happens to be a demographic much in the political news this year. If that demographic segment turns out for the movie the way they have turned out for Donald Trump, and the millennials join them, Lionsgate Films may have found a worthy successor to The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games.

While we know that no battle plan in the Culture Wars will survive first contact with the enemy, we can take heart that the film seems likely to reject “hope and change” as a tactic. A strategic alliance with the filmmakers seems to be a winning strategy. We can expect to face “the usual suspects” who will try to leverage terrible memories of the tragedy of the oil spill. The Obama administration, the Democrats, the environmentalists, the Green Energy crowd, even Oscar Winner Al Gore can be expected to take the field against us. We can be sure that they will use Rahm Emanuel’s dictum, “never let a crisis go to waste” and do their utmost to sway voters to their side.

The solution I would propose is to use truth as our weapon of choice. The vast majority of voters have a very low opinion of the veracity of the media. Ordinarily, the media serves as an echo chamber for “progressives,” That needs to change. There is no time like the present. If you want to change behavior, you should reward good behavior and punish bad behavior. With the benefit of time, it is easy to determine when the media got the story right and when they toed the progressive political line.

To see the few times they got it right, let us start by looking at CBS, particularly the 60 Minutes report by Scott Pelley featuring Mr. Williams. It was an absorbing, a first person account by a man who has a mission -- to prevent a recurrence. No wonder it caught the attention of the Hollywood scriptwriters. It tells the travails of a man whom John Cameron Swayze might have described as someone who “took a licking, but kept on ticking.”  But in the end, Mr. Williams himself needed to be rescued. After jumping into the sea with fire on the rig and burning oil on the water, he was pulled to safety by the Fast Response Craft from the DAMON B BANKSTON. Dateline NBC picks up the story and introduces us to the real life heroes of the tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that is what real heroes look like. Chief Engineer Anthony Gervasio and Qmed Louis Longlois, a rigger, took their little sixteen-foot boat and drove toward the fire repeatedly. Of the 115 total survivors, all of those who did not get off the rig in one of the two lifeboats directly owe their lives to those two men. My hint to the filmmakers is to make sure both of them are invited to the premier.

Even the Coast Guard, which was the government department with direct responsibility for organizing the Search and Rescue operation, recognized that the private sector beat them to the scene. On April 15, 2011 USCG Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara personally presented the certificate of valor and distinguished public service award to nine members of the crew of the DAMON B BANKSTON, with the other four being honored in absentia, and about two dozen helicopter pilots, rescue swimmers and other Coast Guard personnel who responded to the April 20 disaster. From a GCaptain.com report we learn:

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Craig Murray, one of the pilots of the first helicopter to arrive, said he is certain more workers would have perished that night if the Bankston’s crew hadn’t been there to act.

“They are the true heroes,” Murray said.

The crowd at Friday’s ceremony observed a moment of silence for the 11 workers who died in the blast. Photographs of each victim adorned a poster in front of the stage.

From the Tidewater Marine website we get more details.

On April 15, 2011, the United States Eighth Coast Guard District presented outstanding achievement awards to the crew of the M/V Damon B Bankston for their heroic search and rescue efforts immediately following the catastrophic explosion and fire onboard the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010.  Captain Alwin Landry was presented the Certificate of Valor, Qmed, Louis Longlois received the Silver Lifesaving Medal, Chief Engineer, Anthony Gervasio received the Gold Lifesaving Medal, and the entire crew received the Distinguished Public Service Award.

So Hollywood does mimic real life. But as the saying goes, “You just can’t make this stuff up.”

If anyone is looking for a photo-op with a couple of true heroes, maybe they could try to get the bashful Anthony Gervasio along with his partner Mr. Longlois to come out in public for the presentation of the USCG Gold and Silver Lifesaving Medals they were awarded.. Opening night might be appropriate.

Hollywood recently made a film, The Finest Hours, about another Gold Lifesaving Medal recipient, Boatswain Mate First Class Bernard C. Webber. Maybe there is a sequel on that list of medal recipients. Who knows, maybe Gina Rodriguez would like to play Ida Lewis. They just don’t seem to make heroines like they used to. This could even start a trend of recognizing hard working Americans with real jobs, not just Washington pundits.