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Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.

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Canadian Oil Lobby Declares War On Netflix


If you are the parent of a school-aged child, particularly during these online learning environment times, you’ve probably heard your fair share about the evils of fossil fuels and the savior that is renewables. Hollywood is also disseminating anti-oil material aimed at young children--or in this particular case, Netflix--drawing the ire of the oil lobby, which is gearing up for war.

Educators with limited energy knowledge--often social studies educators--are quick to point out the myriad problems with fossil fuels. They are less quick to point out the problems with renewables, which just so happen to be real. Hollywood, too, is now picking up the mantle against fossil fuels, and they are even less subtle. 

Case in point, Netflix’s movie The Big Foot Family, which has the oil industry up in arms. One Canadian lobbyist group, Candian Energy Centre, has accused the film of “brainwashing” youngsters and peddling lies. 

Those are harsh words for a cartoon that struggles to squeeze in complex topics into an animated adventure that aims to entertain youngsters.

The movie’s main character is green-crusader Big Foot, who travels to the Alaskan wilderness to protest against an oil company known as X-TRACT Oil. X-TRACT is touting its clean method of extracting oil that doesn’t leave any environmental footprint. The oil company is lying, of course, and instead of sustainable drilling for an unsustainable resource, X-TRACT plans to detonate a bomb to spill oil over the pristine Alaskan wilderness.  Related: Oil Slips On Small Crude Inventory Build

While Canada might be offended by the insinuation that oil is inherently evil, BP has been silent, even though the X-TRACT oil depicted in the movie looks suspiciously similar to BP: bright, shiny, BP-green, and complete with BP’s new greenspeak. Nevertheless, BP likely views this Netflix challenger as beneath it or as an unworthy adversary. 

BP should not be so quick to dismiss. After all, according to Whitney Houston, and conveniently also according to Canadian Energy Centre, these children are our future.

And given the politicization of fossil fuels, these kids will either be for or against fossil fuels. 

“Our children are the key to the future,” the Canada oil lobby group said, adding that those kids “can’t succeed if they’re filled with misinformation.” 

And make no mistake, this film took great pains to explain not just how evil the oil company and its workers were, but how proud the parents were of their children’s anti-oil company activism which included breaking into the oil company grounds to save the town from utter destruction.

The Canadian oil lobby group was created just a few years ago and dubbed the “energy war room” as it started to become clear that fossil fuels were in the crosshairs of advocacy groups, activist investors, Hollywood, and the media. It is, after all, the main revenue source for the oil-rich province of Alberta. 

They were ready for war then, and they are certainly ready for it now. 

“For too long, the reputation of Alberta’s energy sector has been damaged by a deceitful campaign to landlock the oilsands. The Canadian Energy Centre will focus on improving perceptions about the oil and gas industry,” Alberta’s Minister of Energy Sonya Savage said in October 2019, a few months after the group was formed. Its strategy? To apply a “fact-based approach to counteracting the misinformation about our industry.”

This is the same group that has accused foreign actors of financing anti-oil coverage in the media and started a million-dollar investigation to get to the bottom of it. 

According to the group’s website, energy is the largest subsector of Canada’s economy, accounting for $221 billion of nominal GDP in 2018. Related: Report Accuses Banks Of Creating “Climate Chaos”

As the Canadian Energy Centre suggests, the movie does villainize energy workers. But what it also does is lash out at green energy initiatives that energy companies are taking--at great expense. Big Oil has been repeatedly kicked for doing what the green crusaders have been asking them to do for decades--one can only wonder if any change will truly satisfy climate activists--even ones that are legitimate and not greenwashing.

Minister Savage has spoken out in defense of the Canadian Energy Centre over its Big Foot Family comments. Savage said that while she doesn’t always agree with the Centre’s tactics, the government of Canada needs to fight back against misinformation about the oil and gas industry.


Of course, all this attention that is being paid to the Big Foot Family after the CEC’s efforts may have sparked a viewing frenzy on Netflix, as everyone rushed to find out what all the fuss was about. The movie soon landed itself on Netflix’s Top 10 list. 

One could view this as proof that CEC’s media campaign is influential as intended, or that Big Foot Family won the day by grabbing more viewers than its dubious quality would otherwise warrant.

Either way, the war between the fossil fuel and anti-fossil fuel camps is heating up with the divide growing larger by the day. But even as the climate crowd struggles to change the narrative surrounding energy, the world’s largest oil and gas producers, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Qatar, are forging ahead with new fossil fuel projects. But oil and gas companies should remain vigilant if they hope to survive in this new climate.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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