The movie title Gas Hole likely conjures varied humorous, if not-quite-sure-where-this-movie- is-headed, ideas in the minds of prospective viewers.
Maybe then it is highly suitable that the term came from the angelic mind of a child, simply trying to put a term to that hole-thingy where we insert gas pump nozzles to fuel our cars.
Suitable – and an unwittingly appropriate description of what has been happening in recent decades of oil pricing and auto manufacturing.
In Gas Hole , the girl’s uttering of the name that became the film’s title is one of the few that breaks the movie’s queasy sense of tension. It is an otherwise mind-boggling documentary of the history of oil prices, the attempts to develop alternative fuels and the related efforts of government and corporate interests.
The discomforting questions…
Auto and Oil Industries’ Impacts on Energy
Has the government actually scratched backs with the oil industry in manipulating prices, alternating between wallet-crushing peaks and consumer-pacifying lulls in pricing?
Are all three of those monstrous entities truly responsible for the coercion and, in some cases, deaths of individuals who produced 100-plus mile-per-gallon technological successes?
Just observing current circumstances could be enough to give pause for these questions, what with so many television news shows and other media venues echoing “Pain at the Pump” news bits day after day after day.
But the makers of Gas Hole – Jeremy Wagener & Scott D. Roberts – were semi-lucky in this regard. They couldn’t have firmly predicted that gas prices would crack $4 per gallon the same summer the documentary hits theaters, bemoaning record prices of a few years ago, which now are possibly worth weeping for: $2.50.
Instead, Gas Hole spends time informing younger viewers, and reminding older ones, that today’s circumstances are merely an echo. It reflects on the oil crisis of the 1970s. Gas rationing. Lines at the pump. General economic woes in the country.
And it gives a discomforting warning: The powers that be will drop gas prices, spreading relief throughout the masses, lulling them away from their cries and efforts for alternative fuels.
It happened in the 70s. It’s happening now.
Since viewing Gas Hole , when it paused for three days in June at the Hi-Pointe Theater in St. Louis along its 15-week tour of more than two dozen cities, I’ve watched for gas prices rise to record levels – and then fall.
In St. Louis prices hovered around the $4-per-gallon mark last week; this week, they dipped as low as $3.64. Enough change to create sighs of relief – until consumers remember that that’s still more than a dollar higher than the prices of gas at the pump a year ago.
If Gas Hole ‘s prediction, based on that similarly extreme 1970s precedent, was correct, what else might the movie be right about?
Gas Hole Movie Unites Republicans and Democrats
A much-appreciated aspect of the doom-and-gloom, albeit necessarily straightforward, documentary is Wagener’s and Roberts’ efforts to bridge the political divide in this nation.
The interviewees that are sprinkled throughout Gas Hole , some of whom are U.S. politicians, identify with both the Republican and the Democratic parties.
During the Q & A session that followed the viewing in St. Louis, I asked the co-directors a question regarding the feedback they’ve received from audiences. I was interested in knowing if they were gaining any ground educating the masses when, presumably, they were preaching to the liberal, left-leaning choir.
The kicker: Wagener and Roberts responded that they, themselves, were Republicans.
And that, in short, leads to the ultimate point of Gas Hole . Oil prices, oil dependency and alternative energy sources need not – must not – be a left or right, blue or red issue. It’s an economic one, a national security one, an environmental one, a cultural one. It’s a moral one.
The movie is a valiant statement in the face of a history of strong-arm tactics and misguided leadership bent on manipulating Americans and American life. It’s a commendable effort to inform the hoodwinked public that has fallen prey to that leadership.
The question now: Is the public listening and, if so, how is it going to respond?
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