As anyone who’s ever seen her kicking ass in Blade Runner or Kill Bill can tell you, Daryl Hannah isn’t just another pretty face.
Off-screen, the Chicago-born actress-activist evidences the same fighting spirit while writing and speaking for various environmental causes — she’s given keynote addresses at the National Biodiesel Board Conference, the Natural and Organic Products Expo and the UN Global Business Conference on the Environment — and spreading the bad news about the dangers of climate change.
Now Hannah is using the medium of movies to spread her cautionary messages. As executive producer of Greedy Lying Bastards — a fascinating and sometimes frightening documentary opening Friday at the AMC Studio 30, Gulf Pointe 30 and First Colony 24 theaters — she’s joined forces with director Craig Scott Rosebraugh and co-writer Patrick Gambuti Jr. to alert audiences to the threat of environmental disaster.
They also spend hundreds of millions on these publicity campaigns to confuse people about the science. That should be illegal. I mean, that’s just really criminal.
But wait, there’s more: The filmmakers also shed light on what they view as stealth campaigns of purposeful disinformation aimed at dismissing scientific evidence of global warming and delaying legislation that might impede the progress of climate change.
Hannah called CultureMap this week to talk about Greedy Lying Bastards. Here are some highlights of our conversation.
CultureMap: Have you had any problems running ads for your movie because . . . well, because you have Bastards in the title?
Daryl Hannah: No, not so far. I guess bastards isn’t on the list of unusable words anymore.
CM: Maybe you can thank your Kill Bill director Quentin Tarantino for blazing a trail with Inglourious Basterds?
DH: [Laughs] Maybe so.
CM: You’ve been active in campaigns to raise public awareness about the potential dangers of climate change for several years. But were even you surprised by some of the info gathered for Greedy Lying Bastards ?
DH: Yes. Because I really had no idea the amount of money they’ve been spending and the effort they’ve been putting into undermining climate policy, and any kind of progress on legislation. And how they’ve tried to get the scientific evidence — which is now pretty much a consensus — dismissed through their PR campaigns.
All these people — the World Bank, [Exxon Mobil Corporation CEO] Rex Tillerson, the Koch Brothers — they’ve publicly acknowledged that climate change is in fact happening. And they do acknowledge that it is man-made — that the Industrial Revolution has exacerbated the problem. But they still spend hundreds of millions of dollars.
CM: Where does most of this money go?
DH: Well, obviously, they have 764 lobbyists trying to pressure our politicians. But they also spend hundreds of millions on these publicity campaigns to confuse people about the science. That should be illegal. I mean, that’s just really criminal.
We compare this deception to the deception of the tobacco industry, back when they had people lining up to testify before Congress that tobacco was not addictive, that it was not dangerous to your health and all those other things. Even though the tobacco companies knew this was wrong, and they later showed documents that proved these guys had plenty of warning about the health effects.
This is very, very similar to that. Except that this has to do with the potential extinction of all life on this planet. Even the World Bank put out a report recently that computed a projection to show what would happen if we continued to emit carbons, and we raised the temperature by just four degrees Celsius. It’s so catastrophic, it’s basically beyond something imaginable. In fact, it’s so severe, it’s hard to even read the report — it’s that upsetting.
CM: Even so, you’ve insisted that the news media haven’t been giving climate change enough coverage. Why do you think that’s the case?
DH: The problem is that, as far as the media goes, much of their advertising money comes from these oil companies. Because the fossil-fuel industry is the wealthiest industry in the history of mankind. Back when I was growing up, news reporters did investigative reporting. Now it’s all cut and paste. You’ll actually get fired if you try to do real investigative reporting for the most part.
I guess bastards isn’t on the list of unusable words anymore.
We now have a media that’s no longer fair and balanced. I mean, they’ll try to appear fair and balanced by saying, “OK, we’re going to have someone on with one point of view, and then we’ll have someone with a contrary point of view." But since [climate change] is basically a consensus among the scientists, basically the only people they can get are these paid-for denialists who are hired by the fossil-fuel industries.
And the spokespeople for the denialist campaigns get very hefty salaries.
CM: Do you think that your acting career has suffered in any way — or that you’ve lost any roles — because of your outspoken activism?
DH: I know that’s been the case in some instances, for sure. But that’s OK. The truth is, I’m a human being above all. I love life. And I’d love to see life go on on this planet, and thrive.
You have to think about where your values lie, and what your priorities are. Really, I don’t get paid to do this stuff, in terms of sharing and spreading information. But it’s just that time in the world, unfortunately, when we’re facing a crisis.
And if we don’t share this information — we’re certainly not going to get it from people who benefit from our being oblivious.