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Film Review: How to Boil a Frog

Want to be a real hero?

Save the planet.

Don’t know how?

Start by viewing the new eco-comedy, How to Boil a Frog.

The film tells the story of Jon Cooksey, an ordinary man on a mission, who decided two years ago that he had to do something personally to make sure his 12-year-old daughter would have a future, given all the bad news on global warming.

As he began this quest he was especially keen on waking people up to the disinformation campaign against global warming. However, after interviewing top experts in the field, he discovered a much bigger picture: the world is in “overshoot” where peak oil, global warming, overpopulation, diminishing natural resources, and a system where “the privileged few rule” come together to a point that no one problem can be addressed without tackling all of them.

While too many films (and books and speeches) stop right there with the problems, Cooksey goes beyond that to offer solutions with the promise that acting on global warming can not only make our lives better but it can make a difference for people throughout our world. Here are his five suggestions:

  • Don’t buy Exxon products (a foremost contributor to global warming and big-time lobbyist against change).
  • Reduce or eliminate your consumption of beef. (Cows contribute to global warming more than any other animal except humans.)
  • Limit families to one child per couple.
  • Discover ways to transition off the energy-chugging treadmill that consumes time, money and happiness.
  • Be a “giant killer” by organizing citizens to fight for sustainability in their communities and exposing corporations and projects that pollute. (Cooksey is especially fond of You-Tube for gaining the attention of both the giants and the “little people.”)

How to Boil a Frog is especially useful for people struggling with paralyzing guilt, despair and/or ignorance over the state of the environment. Here Cooksey puts it bluntly: “If you believe you can make a difference, you can; if you don’t believe you can’t make a difference, you can’t.” Of course, he hopes he can convince you to act.

One interesting effect of deciding to act is that citizens come together in cooperative ways to fight for their communities—and the can make a lot of friends, just as Cooksey did. This is something, he says, that we have gotten away from in our society where competition and the acquisition of private property and goods are more valued than our relationships with each other.

Cooksey’s message is clear in point and snarky in tone and its snappy pace is filled with many mind-boggling facts and challenges. The film will appeal to both adults and children alike as it takes a funny and irreverent look at our consumer culture, unsustainable lifestyles and general attitudes that have allowed us to wage an unprecedented war against Nature.

Finally, what is most compelling—and refreshing—about the film is to see a man who has known privilege and success illustrate to viewers how he uses his skills and talents as a TV writer/producer to communicate his concerns about the environment. Through his own example, he taps the heroic vein in all of us to do the same in our own way so that we, too, will act with purpose and hope in the future for the sake of all our children.

How to Boil a Frog is an interactive work in progress. The website (http://www.howtoboilafrog.com) provides a trailer (http://www.howtoboilafrog.com/video/trailer_lg.html), background information on the issues and several links (http://www.energybulletin.net/node/49367) about what other communities are doing for sustainability. A virtual bake sale (http://www.howtoboilafrog.com/bakesale/bakesale.html) is also being held to raise funds to finish the film and distribute it.

 
Editorial Notes: Just had brunch today with Jon Cooksey, who happened to be in town. There's a reason the film is so good -- Cooksey is a professional screenwriter and producer for televison, having worked on "Rugrats" and "The Collector" among others (see his entry at IMDB). Cooksey has already invested much of his own money in the documentary, and hopes to achieve commercial distribution if he can find angels or some other way to finish it (biggest issue is buying rights for footage used in the film). A business plan is available. Olga Bonfiglio is a regular contributor to Energy Bulletin. -BA

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