Sunday, July 23, 2006

Who Killed the Objective Documentary Film?

Who Killed the Electric Car? is Hollywood's latest conspir-u-mentary film, narrated by one-time Toyota spokesvoice and conspiracy monger Martin Sheen, that purports to tells us the story behind why General Motors abandoned its all-electric EV-1 passenger vehicle.

I don't plan to buy a ticket to see the film, but as the movie's website makes clear, the answer is to found in a Casablancian round-up of the usual "suspects" (their word), specifically the interlocking interests of the automobile and petroleum industries, and the "petro-politicians that love them."

Amidst the spate of one-sided, feature-length documentaries of late, a better question to ask might be: whatever happened to the objective documentary? Even possessed of a point of view, shouldn't a documentary filmmaker distinguish himself from a pure propagandist by the fair representation of dissenting opinions?

Unfortunately, excluded from the WKtEC narrative are people involved with the development of electric vehicles, such as Dave Wassmann, who do offer cogent explanations of the myriad difficulties GM faced on the EV's road to commercial viability.

As the AutoChannel's Steve Purdy noted following a screening of the movie in the motor city:
The movie’s researcher, Roger Gibbs, tried to answer a question from the audience after the show about why no one is building an electric car now if it is really as viable as the movie implies. “Well,” he says, “that’s one of the reasons we’re here in Detroit and one of the reasons we made the movie.” His implication was that a practical electric vehicle could easily be built today if anyone had the courage to build one.
Perhaps these questions are better asked of electronics giant Sony, whose Sony Pictures Classics distributes the film, evidently believing that, at least for the time being, charging $9.00 a ticket to see a movie decrying the nefarious demise of "the electric car" is more profitable than, say, actually bringing one to the market.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Glen Reynolds accused of "Water Sports" by Greg Djerejian in his latest Dispatch. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Andrew Sullivan links to a Belgravia Dispatch from Greg Djerejian, "a conservative of the reality-based variety," who criticizes Instapundit Glen Reynolds on a variety of fronts without offering much rebuttal or citation.

What to make of Djerejian's unhinged criticism? For example, Djerejian criticizes Reynolds' "repetitive primitive attacks on the 'Yale Taliban,'" without providing one link (either to an Instapundit post or one reflecting his own "correct" view of the situation).

Next, Djerejian takes on Instapundit foreign policy (again without a link), by simply dismissing Reynolds' worldview as "a breathtakingly naive Jacksonianism, fused with some soi disant neo-conservative gloss." Here, Djerejian, like Sullivan, tends to wax philosophical exactly when the debate keys on the consequences of more mudane decisions like troop strength, combat effectiveness, interrogation and detention policy.

Worse, Djerejian accuses Reynolds of, ahem, playing "water sports" (not that there's anything wrong with that), by
routinely piss[ing] on people who have loyally served their country (see Generals Batiste and Swannack, for the most damning examples), if they dare to point out what is blindingly obvious to all but the residual denialist fringe of bloggers and columnists--who still believe our war strategy was basically sound in Iraq--rather than an epic blunder (at least to date).
No debate or documentation of the slur needed for Djerejian. Never mind whether, logically or metaphysically, there can be an "epic blunder" to date (since he hedges with the possibility that the "blunder" may indeed prove to be a predicate to success). Again, Djerejian fails to link to a single post. When I used the Instapundit search to look up the names of the two alleged "pissed on" patriots, I found nothing. No puddle.
In fact, the only link Djerejian does provide in his post is Reynolds' "approving" link to Tammy Bruce, a "risibly under-informed blather-mouth" who above all had the audacity to not be known before to Djerejian. Djerejian focuses on one facet of Bruce's criticism relating to Tony Blair's comments when in fact her piece, as titled, was a much wider roundup of the "World's Selective Criticism of Israel." Djerejian doesn't rebut her point by a link to Blair's balanced criticism of Palestinian terrorists. Instead, Djerejian completely misrepresents Bruce's argument that "[t]his is a world, after all, that proves time and time again that they think nothing is worth fighting for," by attributing her belief about that complacency (rather than selective criticism of Israel) to Blair rather than other world leaders.

Worse, Djerejian seems to conflate the interests of the US and Israel (neo-cons call your office!) when he says in this context "We've had no better friend than Tony Blair these past years." Oy vey!

I agree with Djerejian on one point. "People have to get their head out of their asses, frankly, and get some perspective. Seriously."

UPDATE: Sure enough, Instapundit never did criticize, much less "piss on," Generals Batiste and Swannack, but he did link, with the comment "Ouch," to Judith Apter Klinghoffer. A Rumsfeld detractor no less, she did criticize former generals, none of them by name, who would "whine" to the press from retirement about being intimidated by Rumsfeld. Again, whine but no piss. Reynolds' extended post speaks for itself and Djerejian's animus.