As we all know, America is a country chock full of wonderful corporations, with only our best interests in mind.

Take DuPont, for example. Remember how cool the Jeff Gordon DuPont car was? And the company slogan: “Let’s invent a better now.” How lovely! Who could be against a better now?

Which is why it was so disappointing to see Hollywood lash out at American enterprise with “Dark Waters,” a hit-piece starring Mark Ruffalo as Robert Bilott, a lawyer who is seemingly hell-bent on taking DuPont down, accusing the company of everything from poisoning a town’s water supply, to failing to disclose evidence of dangerous chemicals in the town’s water supply, to continuing to poison the town’s water supply.

Of course, Bilott was only successful in his litigation because his law firm had a history of defending chemical companies against such lawsuits, so he had insider knowledge. These entities paid his salary for years, and he thanks them by going after a closely related business. Loyalty used to mean something, but I guess not to greedy, fat-cat law law folk.

Throughout the film, which is over two hours long, Biliott bolsters his attack with shadily obtained documents he received through a court order. And what does he do with the information he learns? Only continue to build a case. Dark waters? More like despicable behavior.

And with all this research, what does he learn? Absolutely nothing incriminating, that’s for sure.

Sure, DuPont was aware that PFOA, a chemical used in the production of Teflon, could cause several kinds of cancers, birth defects and blackened teeth, then continued to dump that chemical in rivers and landfills for decades. And maybe it did, as part of its research, secretly provide employees with cigarettes laced with PFOA and track the health problems it caused. And perhaps it pulled all women off the Teflon production floor in an attempt to limit exposure, without telling anyone why. But it clearly did all of that for the good of the people.

When it became aware of a lawsuit concerning the PFOA was being brought against it, DuPont did what any good samaritan would do and sent out a letter alerting residents of Parkersburg, West Virginia, the town with the contaminated water, that small amounts of BFOA had been detected in the water supply, but not to worry because the levels were below what was considered safe.

Of course DuPont was the one who set those guidelines — who would know more about a chemical than the company that produces it? The fact that the letter technically counted as notification of risk and gave residents only one year to file suit before the statute of limitations ran out was just a coincidence. And yes, saying the levels were below the safety limit was a lie, but the company did that solely to ease the minds of its consumers.

According to medical experts, high levels of stress can lead to headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, depression and anxiety. Thanks to their friends at DuPont, Parkersburg residents didn’t have to worry about any of that, making it much easier to deal with the cancers, blackened teeth and birth defects.

Ignoring all the science mumbo-jumbo, one must look no further than Mark Ruffalo himself to see this movie for the toxic sludge it is. When Mark was the Hulk (hero), part of an international coalition of extremely powerful individuals who had no oversight and a license to kill, he was fit, he was muscular, he was green — he looked good. Now, when he’s a lawyer (villain) disparaging the fine name of DuPont? He is simply schlubby.

Near the end of the film, we sadly see the Environmental Protection Agency hit DuPont with the largest fine in history, over $16 million. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t take a $16 million hit, and I cannot fathom that anyone, or anything, could either.

The film ends with a spooky, ominous black screen telling us that PFOA is now found in 99% of humans throughout the world. Well, so is oxygen. What’s next, is Hollywood going to tell us that corporate greed is making our air dangerous to breathe?

Look, there has been plenty of misguided movies, but suggesting multi-billion-dollar chemical companies may not be our friends? That’s going a step too far.

Rating: I cannot even think of numbers right now, when I am still thoroughly worked up about this disgusting piece of anti-corporate propaganda.

Secondary rating: It is a profoundly sad film that shows how inadequately many industries are regulated, and how hard it is to do anything about it. It has Anne Hathaway in it. It is probably about 40 minutes too long. 6.5/10.

Noah Ripley can be reached at nripley@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4205.

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(2) comments

Lynchparent

I'd like to continue with Noah's facetious comments to add how wonderful it was that DuPont sold fuel and explosives to the Germans during World War II. How about those vigilante groups that were formed by DuPont to bomb union halls and murder union organizers? Just a sweet corporation all around good guys, right Noah?

whizbang

Lynch: those people are long since passed, and so are their kids. You still hating on the Germans for what Hitler did?

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