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Published:March 3rd, 2009 15:38 EST
The Coen Brothers Direct New TV Ad Satirizing   Clean Coal

The Coen Brothers Direct New TV Ad Satirizing Clean Coal

By Christopher HIllenbrand

The Coen Brothers aren`t strangers to sardonic topics. In the past fourteen years, they`ve been frequent esteemed guests at the Academy Awards, often nominated for their thought-provoking films with perverse edge. Fargo (1995) and No Country for Old Men (2007), both directed and written by Ethan and Joel Coen, tackled murder in a wry and unorthodox fashion. After conquering the celluloid medium, the brothers turned their sights to skewering Big Energy`s  ridiculous claim that coal is a clean and reliable fuel source and safe for the planet.


In fact, coal is regarded as anything but by scientists studying the causes of the rapidly increasing temperatures worldwide. There are approximately 600 coal-burning facilities in the United States alone. As of 2009, there are over 50,000 coal-burning plants around the world which, as researchers have concluded, account for much of the greenhouse gases triggering global warming.


The Coen-directed commercial reflected this concept that coal isn`t a safe alternative to electricity for the environment with the keen camera eye that has been a trademark of theirs since they arrived in Tinsel Town.


Their ad, which debuted on Thursday on various cable network stations, is a parody of the stereotypical air freshener commercial. A chipper young man comes onto the screen and raves about the benefits of a new aerosol spray. The black aerosol can in his hand has Clean Coal " boldly written across its label. He proudly offers the product he`s hocking to a pretty female suburbanite to try for herself. The housewife takes the can and sprays billows of black smoke without hesitation. Soon the house is completely draped in black smoke which causes her family to cough uncontrollably. Then the screen fades to black and cuts to an end title saying: In reality, there`s no such thing as clean coal.


In a comment about the project, the Coens said: we were excited to be part of this important project and tell another side of the clean` coal story.


The Reality Coalition, a cooperative of five environmental groups, produced the commercial. The coalition had been organized as a direct answer to the new campaign promoting clean coal as an environmentally-safe energy source.


The campaign had been backed by a consortium of coal industry companies under the name The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity . Over the past year, the group has spent 18 million dollars in running television ads touting the coal industry`s usage of pollution-monitoring equipment and how coal is a cost-effective, clean, and bountiful energy alternative.


Naturally, the coalition contradicted the view that the Coen brothers held about their meal ticket. Joe Lucas, a spokesperson from the group, spoke on behalf of his party`s interests.


Meeting America`s growing energy demand  is going to require use of all energy technologies. Technology has made coal a cleaner energy option.