Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rediscovering the Past: Steven Seagal: Visionary, Humanitarian

Upon having seen Steven Seagal's magnum opus On Deadly Ground, I have to admit my relative short-sightedness when evaluating his import.

On Deadly Ground, Seagal's directorial debut, is a poignant, nuanced look at the malevolent oil companies and their utter disregard for the global community. Having hit the theaters in 1994, this would appear to have been well ahead of its time. Within the construct of the film, Michael Caine's character, Michael Jennings, is a soulless oil tycoon whose sole purpose in life is to rape the environment for his own gains. Rather than ensure that his business is operating within the confines of generally safe standards, he orders his underlings to cut corners to expedite processes, shirking off corporate responsibility in favor of making as much money as possible while stepping over anyone in his way.

Anyone who has seen a Steven Seagal star vehicle could tell you what happens when Seagal's Forrest Taft gets in the way of what Jennings wants: arms are broken, minions' torsos are blown open, shit blows up, and arms are broken.

What the average joe may not think of is what comes after the Seagal bloodbath. Once the villains are thwarted and summarily slaughtered by the Native American Taft, he takes the stage at the Alaskan State Capital and presents a stirring case against the wanton disregard that big business (enabled by lax governmental regulation) has for the well-being of the whole of mankind. After only a few moments, one cannot help but admire Seagal for using his film as a platform to warn against the perversely reckless and wholly unnecessary pollutant and cancerous lifestyle forced upon the world by big auto and big oil with the help of a complicit government. After a few more, it becomes abundantly clear that this powerful film drove Al Gore running towards the cause of combatting global warming.

So praise be to Steven Seagal, who was on the lookout for all of our best interests way before it was cool. Do the man a solid and buy some Lightning Bolt.

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