The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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Disney's 'Earth': More eco-friendly brainwashing?

April 22, 2009 |  5:03 pm


What could possibly be wrong with Disney's new "Earth" film? You know, the squeaky-clean nature documentary that opened today -- it being Earth Day, of course -- propelled by the wonderfully sly marketing gimmick where the studio promises to plant a tree for every patron who sees the film. (Our review is here.) Sadly, even this gummy-bear-like celebration of the wonders of the natural world couldn't pass the ideological smell test with some conservative global warming skeptics. So when the New York Post's Kyle Smith weighed in with his review, he felt obligated to bash the film for its "obligatory hints of lefty hysteria" as he touted on his blog.

Smith is a delightfully witty writer, even managing to work into his review a classic Woody Allen joke about nature being like "an enormous restaurant." But what did the film do to merit the claim about lefty hysteria? Smith writes: "Included at no extra charge is the mandatory dose of eco-hectoring. Surely 'only fragments remain' isn't the proper way to describe the more than 1 billion acres of forest in North America alone. Also, isn't man one of the animals entitled to a habitat? But maybe the deer are working on a documentary gravely warning one another that their species is ravaging the fragile ecosystem of the Hamptons."

If Smith spent less time in the Hamptons and more time driving around the West, as I have, he might realize that millions of acres of forest land from Canada to Colorado have been destroyed by tiny pine beetles who, spurred by warmer winters, now flourish at higher altitudes than ever before. It's pretty depressing to drive across the Rockies and see vast tracts of dead trees in the once-pristine wilderness. But maybe I should say that in a whisper -- I wouldn't want to be found guilty of eco-hectoring!

Photo of polar bear in "Earth" from BBC Worldwide