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The Mockery of No Impact Man

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorSeptember 11, 2009 10:04 PM


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I'm starting to feel bad for No Impact Man. He's not getting much respect lately from NY media elites. Several weeks ago, Elizabeth Kolbert dissed him in The New Yorker, prompting his eloquent and polite rejoinder here. Today, with the release of the movie that chronicles his widely publicized environmental stunt, (he must hate that word by now), he and the film get whacked by the Times lead movie reviewer:

Taken as a polemical documentary championing environmentally conscious action, "No Impact Man," directed by Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein, is of little interest and less utility. It provides no new scientific insights or political arguments, and celebrates various behavioral changes without assessing their value or importance. Mr. Beavan's evangelical, self-congratulatory demeanor has the effect, especially early in the film, of playing to the unfortunate perception that what drives many environmentalists is, above all, the need to feel superior to their neighbors and fellow citizens.

Later in his review, Scott the environmentalist/film critic warms up to the movie and its star, but can't resist a few final jabs:

I remain unconvinced that the cause of planetary rescue will be advanced very far by what is, in the end, an elaborate stunt. But as a professional writer, a New York husband and a man with a compost bin, an organic-produce fetish and a guilty conscience, I can't, in the end (all appearances to the contrary), judge Mr. Beavan or this film too severely. Making an impact is easy. Making a difference is hard.

It has been said that the sensitive soul in No Impact Man has taken all the mocking criticism to heart. Spare me the crocodile tears. If the book and movie are hits, he can cry all the way to the bank.

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