climate change

Film Review: Planet of the Humans

Cliches are not environmentalism.

People who are not consistently affected by environmental degradation but who choose to project themselves as “leaders of the movement” are no longer allowed to speak without disruption. Not since the “Biggest Little Farm” has there been a film so devoid of the reality of its principal focus. Because the producer is Michael Moore, many people will flock to “Planet of the Humans” because of his reputation of “speaking truth to power,” but not only is he not in the film, he and Jeff Gibbs have completely forgotten to discuss the targets of consistent ecosystem destruction. Honestly, the environmental movement in the United States needs to be burned to the ground because of its penchant for being privileged, attention-seeking malcontents who enjoy their privilege while telling everyone else to cast off theirs.

That Jeff Gibbs has any authority to talk about the environment is nothing short of a miracle. Only a delusional individual thinks that he is protesting anything by being able to 1) purchase an extensive private property; 2) have the financial stability to make that property self-sustaining; and 3) be able to drop back into the conversation whenever he feels without so much as a shrug while still being able to command choice interviews. At the end of the hour-and-forty-minute “documentary,” one is forced to realize that this man has been complaining from a position of comfort the entire time. He has not been ignored nor forced to endure the pain of deforestation, but he wants everyone to see him as “compassionate.” He has not had his neighbors vote to put power plants and landfills in his neighborhood, but he wants everyone to see him as “frustrated” by all the waste.

Speaking of power plants and landfills, there was no discussion about the communities who are forced to endure the consequences of relentless consumption. Viewers heard how inefficient it was to ever turn off a power plant, but in none of the shots did people see who lived around all those power plants. There were vague inserts of Black and brown countries being forced to provide raw materials, but not enough recognition that Black and brown communities in the United States are consistently places where people feel comfortable putting the waste while they live far away from the fumes. So many people smile for Earth Day, but have no recognition of how the food supply chain, the power supply chain, etc. were designed to keep the “chosen” people safe from anything that would alert them to how destructive their life choices were.

Another disgusting–and racist–sentiment echoing throughout the film is how people are having too many children, which is causing the human race to die. Consider most of the working poor: many live in community with friends or family; they cannot afford to live alone; and they take transit much more often by necessity. Conversely, wealthy people not only live alone, but tend to hoard real estate; each of their children gets a car “because of how convenient it is for the parents”; and they believe that everyone’s goal and purpose should be acquisition. No, the multigenerational household with five children is not the problem; the multibillionaire who needs multiple empty and expansive properties while only using softsoap is the problem. Also, saying that everyone should have fewer children is what most White people say about Black and brown people with whom they do not interact.

Speaking of White people, it is interesting that neither Michael Moore nor Jeff Gibbs could not find anyone of color other than Van Jones or one electoral activist whose name was unclear to talk about environmental issues. This behavior is consistent with believing that Black and brown people are too stupid to understand toxicity and overconsumption. Whiteness as “environmentalism” is why not enough people care when Black and brown people are declared “essential workers” and sentenced to death to work fastfood for the comfort of everyone who is board–pardon, bored–but are told to make “better choices” and “stop eating fastfood” by acceptable people to the dominant narrative. The Navajo Nation had to deal with uranium mines when nuclear energy was trending, but no one thought to clean up the mess left by that “important discovery.” None of those so-called “environmental leaders” in the film has ever had to consistently deal with the consequences of Eurocentric dominance over Black and brown lives, but every one of them feels entitled to say degrading things about the lives of people with whom they refuse to engage.

Most importantly, this film never speaks about changed behavior. Sure, there are several shots of animals being hurt by destruction, but the people who bear the biggest burden are the most ignored. This film is every vegan who smirks at a meat eater while maintaining a lawn instead of a garden. This film is every financial advisor that wags a finger at the working poor while praising the pennies from “philanthropist” billionaires. Several entities discussed in the film immediately became defensive instead of considering what flaws should be addressed and how. In other words, the people in “Planet of the Humans” have no self awareness and continue to take up the microphones and attention while refusing to acknowledge their part in destruction. To be fair, Michael Moore is now a multimillionaire, so what does he care anymore?

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