FX Looks Left to Peak at Oil

FX Looks Left to Peak at Oil
Energy apocalypse is one big worst-case scenario

By Dan Gainor
June 6, 2005

     It probably will be viewed as the worst disaster on American soil, ever.

     No, thats not a review of the new FX Networks movie, Oil Storm, though it could be. Instead, its a comment from one of the characters in the film about the seemingly endless stream of worst-case scenarios the film ties together to create an energy cataclysm in 2005 and 2006.

     The movie had its initial airing Sunday, June 5, 2005, in back-to-back broadcasts. The film was designed as a mock-umentary, looking back on the series of catastrophes that piled on top of one another.

     And it was quite a list. It managed to touch on a wide variety of left-wing apocalypse now theories weather, war, terrorism, China becoming the dominant economic power, that President George Bush will use martial law and the idea that oil production has peaked. Peak oil is one of the principle beliefs of the radical left, despite the fact that the oil industry continues to find new oil reserves and improve the ability to access hard-to-get oil and gas.

     Heres just a sampling of the catastrophes packed into two hours: A Category 4 hurricane nearly wiped out the city of New Orleans, devastating the oil facilities at Port Fourchon, 70 miles to the southwest. Then, U.S. oil was routed to Houston, where fog prevented ships from moving. Once the fog lifted, the new Bush-appointed energy czar ordered accelerated processing, which resulted in two container ships colliding and exploding. Next, the United States had to rely on Saudi Arabia for oil and terrorists struck first killing oil workers and then destroying two key Saudi oil facilities.

     That was barely the beginning. The rising gas prices resulted in thousands of deaths, a U.S. military expedition to the Middle East, a depression worse than the Great Depression and martial law across America.

     The movie placed much of the blame on the real life Bush presidency. An administration oil czar, a former Soviet communist official, spoke one of the unsubtle attacks on the current war in Iraq. There was a budget crisis because there was less money coming in. There was more money that needed to be paid for the oil that did come in because the prices had gone through the roof and at the same time the American government has to maintain troops in Iraq and send more troops to Saudi Arabia. This is not cheap.

     Another character immediately repeated the same argument: America was spending over a $1 billion a day and had 130,000 troops in Iraq. Everybody knew that the American economy could not sustain a second large scale military force.

     Gas prices rose steadily throughout the show, first leveling off about $5 per gallon. The movie never mentioned that Europe has survived similar gas prices, caused by massive European taxes. But just to make sure things looked crazy, the movies U.S. prices hit more than $8 per gallon.

     The writers used this oil platform as a way to criticize the Bush administration, the Iraq war and Americas reliance on oil. How can we give oil that much power over our lives? asked one woman, whose family owned a gas station. Similar sentiments were echoed by a farmer who criticized lost farm price supports. At a rally, he and other supporters chanted Food not oil, even though large farms are dependent on fuel for planting, harvesting and transporting crops to market.

     FX took a position on this movie similar to the Discovery Channels on its disaster movie, Supervolcano. Both networks tried to make the shows seem plausible, even though they were far from it. According to FX: Oil Storm will look at a series of natural and man-made disasters which interrupt the flow of oil to the United States, creating a huge set of crises and dramatically changing our way of life. Oil Storm changes the form of the traditional disaster movie, as it will be designed to be an accurate, thought-provoking and serious portrayal of what would potentially happen if Americas oil supply were cut off.

     FX is the network that is bringing anti-food industry filmmaker Morgan Spurlock to TV with his new show 30 Days. Spurlock is best known for eating mountains of McDonalds food, stopping exercise and then making a movie about how sick he got called Supersize Me. The network also receives a great deal of criticism for the sex and violence in its popular police drama The Shield.

     Oil Storm delivered that same level of over-the-top television. The story focused mostly on ordinary people and how they would deal with the devastation. One family had to cope with the loss of their son killed defending Saudi oil facilities. Another woman was unable to help her mother, who froze to death for lack of heating oil. Viewers watched as character after character criticized the government and the fictional Bush leadership.

     Throughout the movie, the network warned viewers that it wasnt real and that this program is for entertainment purposes only. Oil Storm was the kind of program that needed a reminder that it really was entertainment.

     Oil Storm showed gas prices skyrocketing after a series of random events.