We’ve Been Bamboozled!

Sunday Night 12:30am

Pamela Falkenberg, Jack Cochran | 
2023 | 
United States | 
7:17 mins | 

Recent revelations show that the fossil fuel industries, over the course of many decades, sponsored scientific research about the potential consequences of burning fossil fuels on the earth’s environment, which concluded that the impact would be “dramatic” and “urgent.” Instead of sharing this information and seeking alternatives, the fossil fuels industries embarked on a longstanding campaign of disinformation and obfuscation that has outdone that of big tobacco (see, for instance, this Guardian article from 2021 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/30/climate-crimes-oil-and-gas-environment).

Now that all this has come to light, the result is an unprecedented rash of lawsuits and investigations. These legal proceedings are expected to take years, but right now we need to be informed about what is at stake.

Our short film, “We’ve Been Bamboozled,” which combines images of a world powered by fossil fuels with a poetic summary, based on text extracted from the oil industry’s own reports, is part of that effort.

We freely admit that our poem takes liberties with the original texts, ironically paring down their prose using an erasure strategy, to reveal and highlight that the fossil fuel industries knew how much they were contributing to climate change, how dangerous that was, and just how long they chose to keep that information to themselves (since at least 1959).

We encourage our audience to get the full story from our source materials, via this link on our website: https://www.outliermovingpictures.com/we-ve-been-bamboozled

Erasure ≠ cover up

Link to the text of the poem

We’ve Been Bamboozled, by Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran, is a straightforward documentary that takes a look a the history of greenwashing in the oil industry of the US. The film juxtaposes written documentation, found poems and images of the overall oil and vehicular infrastructure of America to enliven us to the present climate catastrophe.

The process that the film takes follows a system of erasure to craft the idea that the oil companies of the US new their role in pollution and climate change from their very inception. Utilising a speech given by physicist Edward Teller, the film willingly obscures and highlights differing parts of the speech to create the impression of pollution and climate change as common knowledge.

The process of erasure is here used as a means of coming to consciousness rather than hiding information. The images of confidential reports and research conducted by oil companies list through the film. The speech by Teller, appearing before and after these images, seems to hint at the contents of these committees and panels finding. The confidential and classified information system only belies the attempt to greenwash and silence critics from within and without. Thus erasure becomes a process of whittling down superfluity and finding the fine detail that damns political, economic and environmental backwardness.