April 16th, 2012
Does anybody remember a time when environmentalists actually did things and had a sense of humor about it? Ocean activist (and I mean GENUINE activist) Peter Brown’s fun new film, “Confessions of an Ecoterrorist,” shows that spirit as he runs through a scrapbook of amazing Sea Shepherd memories.
BACK WHEN ENVIRONMENTALISTS WEREN’T BORING …
The American environmental movement lost the bulk of its heart and soul in the 1980’s (yet another sad byproduct of Reagan’s ravaging of the nation), but if you want a glimpse of how things used to be, you can still see it in the inspired, sometimes zany, antics of Paul Watson and his band of merry sea life defenders, Sea Shepherd. A number of their most inspiring adventures are presented in the new film, “Confessions of an Ecoterrorist,” by Watson’s long time lieutenant and media mastermindererer, Peter Brown.
On Saturday night I attended a local screening of the film where Peter Brown spoke afterwards. He’s one of my new heros.
In 1982, as a producer for NBC, he did a segment about the Iki Island dolphin slaughter where he encountered Sea Shepherd. He became an immediate convert, formed a friendship with their legendary captain, Paul Watson, and the rest is history as he alternated years of ocean activism (and in the case of Sea Shepherd the word “activism” means a lot more than just writing blog posts) while continuing to produce major television shows (like the most popular show on TV, “Real People” for 4 seasons, and “Entertainment Tonight“).
All of which made him a highly qualified environmental warrior for today — one with inside knowledge and connections in the media/entertainment world. As he says throughout the film, “our cameras are our guns.” No environmental organization understands mass media as well as Sea Shepherd.
So if you loved or even liked, “Whale Wars,” (personally I loved it) you’ll really enjoy this film. Actually, I might go so far as to say it’s better than watching, “Whale Wars,” primarily because it doesn’t quite take itself as seriously. Peter Brown is the host, and at first it seems to start off with corny jokes, but after a while, a lot of the jokes are not only funny (he had the crowd roaring and cheering), the humor becomes poignant and hits a crescendo when the Ecuadoran Navy in the Galapagos Islands gets so spooked they end up accidentally leaving behind a crew member on the Sea Shepherd ship, standing forlorn on the deck in his white uniform after his ship has forgotten him.
oh my gooodness
SAVVY MEDIA VETERANS AT WORK
The film is not only fun, it actually makes you feel good that there are still people in this world who are more interested in doing things, rather than just raising funding from foundations and talking about doing things. Paul Watson and the entire Sea Shepherd crowd are ball busters. And they have so many accomplishments to show for all their efforts, as Brown makes clear in the film (and he doesn’t even go into the major victory they scored recently against the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean — I guess because he got “voted off the ship” on that expedition).
When I talk about the right way to communicate to the public for environmental issues, most of what I’m talking about is what these folks embody. They know how to use humor and emotion in a likeable manner. They not only tell great stories, they still actually produce their own great stories. And most important of all, they’re a bunch of feeling, thinking, laughing human beings. They deserve every ounce of support they get, and as Peter pointed out repeatedly, despite all their high seas hijinx, they’ve never lost a person or even had a major injury. Which is not something the whaling industry can claim.