Rumors of life in the Gulf are greatly exaggerated
The Big Fix, screening at the Ojai Film Festival, explains why the BP oil disaster was worse than we imagined
By Michel Miller 10/25/2012
“The political establishment here have been prostitutes to the oil industry — and not high-price call girls. In many cases, cheap hookers.”
— Bob Marshall, outdoor editor of The Times-Picayune
If you think the BP oil disaster is over, think again. If you believe your geography grants you immunity from the ecological havoc it wreaked, you’re unfortunately, wrong. And if you’re under the impression there’s nothing more to the story, you are mistaken. The Big Fix, a documentary by brave Ojai filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Tickell (Fuel), not only explores the spill’s devastating impact on the environment, economy and culture of the Gulf of Mexico — and the reverberations elsewhere – it exposes the dirty truth about the cleanup and goes deep to the root of oil dependence and the political corruption that keeps us shackled to corporate power.
When news of the Deepwater Horizon explosion first made headlines, Josh, a Louisiana native and environmentalist, paid close attention to reports. As the story unfolded, he and his wife, Rebecca, began to suspect the mainstream media wasn’t telling all, so they packed up and headed to the Gulf — camera and actor/executive producer Peter Fonda in tow. (Fonda, an avid sailor, took the spill personally.) As the crew spoke with locals, BP officials and activists, the utter tragedy of the situation became acutely apparent, as did the feeling that “cleanup” was becoming synonymous with “coverup.”
The Big Fix begins with the history of oil production in the Gulf (including activist Huey Long’s heroic battle with Standard Oil and his subsequent untimely death) and ends with a blistering indictment of a political system bound to corporate interests — it’s not a pretty picture and one is left with little hope by the time the end credits roll.
With each turn of BP’s PR machine and every special interest dollar that changes hands, this film becomes more important. And as the nation is once again forced to choose between the lesser of two evils for the presidency, understanding how and why the oil industry controls public policy and which candidates are getting the most lube, is crucial to making informed decisions.
The Tickells put themselves in harm’s way to shine a light on the sinister goings-on in the Gulf and its shocking consequences, which we won’t know the scope and severity of for generations to come. Shortly after being exposed to the toxic soup of crude oil and chemical dispersants that continue to choke the life out of the region, the skin on Rebecca’s feet began to peel off. Within weeks, her symptoms worsened, and after a boat ride into Gulf waters, her chest broke out in blisters and she contracted chemical pneumonia. The doctor who examined her said he, too, had been suffering from a burning throat and chest since the spill. According to the filmmakers, residents and insiders say not only is oil still leaking as a result of the Deepwater Horizon accident, but dispersants continue to be sprayed in the dark hours of the night.
There are as many elements to the BP disaster as there are chemicals used to cover it up, and all of them are equally critical to understanding the corporate takeover of these “free” United States of America. From BP’s history of disregard for safety, and its recklessness in the days leading up to the explosion, to the destruction of the region’s fishing industry (second only to oil in economic impact), the scandalous use of cheap and highly toxic dispersants to hide the volume of oil released from the well (fines are directly related to gallons spilled) and the unimaginable ecological wreckage and human health toll (to date only one of 91,000 medical claims has been paid by BP), not to mention payoffs in the form of grants and campaign contributions plus Washington’s failure to hold BP accountable in any form, and the new contracts for drilling in the Gulf that were green-lighted by the Obama administration, this is a story that every U.S. citizen needs to know — and this is the film to tell it.
The Big Fix will screen at the Ojai Film Festival on Saturday, Oct. 27, 3 p.m. in the Chaparral Auditorium. For more information, visit www.ojaifilmfestival.com or www.thebigfixmovie.com.