Monday, July 11, 2005


Rollerball and the Energy City

One of the greatest movies of all time is Rollerball (1975). Here is the beginning of the IMDB plot summary:
In a futuristic society where corporations have replaced countries, the violent game of Rollerball is used to control the populace by demonstrating the futility of individuality. However, one player, Jonathan E., rises to the top, and fights for his personal freedom and threatens the corporate control.

Jonathan E. (James Caan) plays for Houston, the Energy City, and John Houseman plays the corporate executive for Energy. Both roles are perfectly cast. In Rollerball, the people lead a life of escapism while the energy executives make all the decisions. Norman Jewison, the director of Rollerball, has said that after the release of the film, a wealthy man from Texas contacted Jewison about the film, and apparently unaware of the social criticism, expressed interest in starting a Rollerball league. I suddenly have in my head the image of the rich cowboy businessman on the Simpsons. Yeeee haaaa!

Well, thank goodness none of this has come to pass in real life. In fact, we have a vibrant government and a President who is not a puppet of the oil companies. At the G-8 summit, Bush announced:
I recognize that the surface of the Earth is warmer and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem

It would seem that such a strong admission, one the oil companies would never make, is proof that the oil companies are not the one who make the most critical decisions that affect our livelihood.

However, the U.S. is the only member of the G-8 that is unwilling to accept the Kyoto Treaty to reduce greenhouse emissions. That's what makes the U.S. special is that, like our religion, we say one thing but do another. As the Washington Post article notes:
Saying the treaty's mandates would cripple the U.S. economy, Bush called instead for a "post-Kyoto era," in which nations work together by sharing new technologies to voluntarily curb greenhouse emissions and ease global warming.

Why don't the other nations join Bush in embracing the spirit of volunteerism? Bush is a beacon of hope that the oil companies will put global interest over private profit.

When I saw Rollerball for the first time, I was six years old, and I'm pretty sure that I missed the social criticism. I immediately laced up my rollerskates and drafted my friends to play Rollerball. It was awesome.

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