We watched Syriana last night. I was profoundly moved. It was a little complicated to follow, but reading the movie’s Wikipedia entry just now helped immensely. Even so, unlike some of the critics who found it too cluttered or overly ambitious, I wouldn’t change it a bit: the chaos makes it all the more realistic, and drives home how complex and interwoven the issues surrounding U.S. dependence on foreign oil are. That it fell short of achieving all that it set out to achieve as a film does nothing to diminish what it does achieve: a gripping, nearly overwhelming story about addiction and the lengths to which addicts will go to protect their stash.

Some of the reviews I’ve read criticize the film for not concluding with a specific call to action, but I didn’t feel that lacking. I think most of us know what we can do; it’s the doing that’s a challenge. Beyond the inconveniences of consumer oil awareness, real dramatic change is unlikely. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t push for support of alternative fuels and higher standards for fuel efficiency, or that we shouldn’t care about provisions on the local and regional level for alternative means of transportation, bike lanes, and such; that should all happen. But we probably shouldn’t be surprised when there’s significant push-back from corporations and government. The momentum of the oil machine will be difficult if not impossible to stop.

Still, here’s one small change I made today: I signed up to have an organic Community Supported Agriculture package from Plumgood Food delivered tomorrow. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. (If it’s not immediately clear how this plays into oil dependence, try reading this, this, or this.)

Next step? Karsten and I have been talking for a while about test-driving some hybrids. I plan to play around in Quicken tonight to see if we can afford the payments, and maybe we’ll get around to at least one test-drive this weekend.

After that, I’m not sure. One of the most frustrating limitations is the lack of a safe way to ride my bike to work. Maybe Karsten and I can do some research this weekend — check out a few possible routes. Otherwise, I suspect we’ll make improvements in bits and pieces, mostly.

I’d be interested to hear from others: what you thought of Syriana (if you’ve seen it), what you thought of An Inconvenient Truth (if you’ve seen it), whether you’re currently making any efforts to cut down on oil consumption, and if so, what those efforts are, etc.

Bringing Syriana home

5 thoughts on “Bringing Syriana home

  • August 9, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    Thanks for the film review! I will try to make time to see it.

  • August 9, 2006 at 3:35 pm

    My biggest objection to the film was that I wanted to see way, way more of the two guys who become terrorists. We didn’t see nearly enough of their stories. There could have been a whole movie about them.


  • August 9, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    True, theirs was a particularly interesting arc, and the spottiness of their appearances in the film made that arc look pretty drastic. I remember being particularly surprised by the jump from the scene where the one guy — the better-looking one… I think Wikipedia said his name was Wasim — was questioning his faith to the scene where the blue-eyed terrorist was telling him he was “ready.” That seemed like a sudden shift, and more to the point, like he really wasn’t ready, but went through with it anyway. Which definitely left a pretty major gap in his story.

  • August 10, 2006 at 8:13 am

    We have a regular CSA veggie package from Bugtussle Farm and we love it. It’s a little more expensive than buying produce at the grocery store, but there’s a reason for that.
    Keep us updated on your hybrid car shopping; we are planning on making that step as soon as we save up a little more.
    Oh, and in the meantime, look for the south park episode, “smug alert!” It’s kind of hilarious.

  • August 10, 2006 at 9:49 am

    Just watched Smug Alert. It wasn’t as side-splittingly funny as a lot of other SP episodes, but it did make me laugh and I can definitely see where there’s a need for the message. 🙂

    I didn’t see George Clooney’s acceptance speech, though, so I had to look for it, and if anyone else reading this hasn’t heard it, here’s a transcript. I guess it seems a little smug, and maybe it was in his tone as he spoke it, but whatever — it makes for good comedy.


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