One of the greatest ways to inform and persuade an audience is to create a film. Hollywood has perfected this art over many years. Messages are included in movies that touch and influence the beliefs of viewers. Sometimes they are subtle so that people are unaware of how they were coerced to become passionate about an issue. On the contrary, some messages are boldly direct and unavoidable. For example, Julia Roberts starred in a movie entitled, “Erin Brockovich”. It is based on the true story of a woman named Erin who became a hero. She became a passionate advocate for people in a lower-class town called Hinkley in California. The film spoke about the inhumane treatment of people who lived with socio-economic disadvantages. However, there were also explicit, liberal political messages that addressed capitalism and poverty.
The plot delivered three strong, knock-out punches. Primarily, it explained the privileged mentality of a wealthy company called PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric). The people in the town of Hinkley lived on very small incomes. As a result of PG&E’s lazy and careless waste-disposal efforts, the people were continuously sickened by hexavalent chromium in the water system. The company was completely aware of the dangers and consequences of their actions, and yet expected to act with impunity. The question to ask is, How could a large corporation have felt completely free to behave in this way? The answer is that the citizens of Hinkley were viewed by PG&E as weak and defenseless. They did not think that the victims had monetary muscles to legally prove that the water was toxic and to bring the matter to court. This may be the very first message in the movie that directors wanted to exclaim. Big corporations expect to carry out agendas like bullies. People who are poor and sick will likely have no way to legally protect themselves. This explains why the problem was able to go unresolved for so many years in Hinkley.
Secondly the film showed how an ordinary woman was able to obtain justice for people who initially had no voice. Erin Brockovich was able to help so many people because of her unrelenting hunger for the truth. The movie was careful to place a spotlight on the fact that Erin Brockovich was a struggling, single mother. This made her come across as an even greater hero than if the role was played by a man. Above all, the message was that single mothers and low-income people are powerful indeed. Their worth should be acknowledged just as much as those who are wealthy. Finally, the other (somewhat hidden) message was implicitly political. PG&E acted so boldly because they had the power to lobby for political candidates who would do one of two things. They would either support PG&E’s behavior defensively, or they would be willing to glance at Hinkley with a blind eye in exchange for money.
The remaining messages in this film were not subtly implied. Instead, they were quite explicit. For example, there is a scene at the law firm of Masry and Vititoe where Erin worked. A lawyer representing PG&E arrived to offer a meager sum of $250,000 for the home of the Jensen family. This family had suffered from several medical afflictions as a result of being exposed to the toxic water. After Erin and her boss rejected his offer, the lawyer stood up and explained that PG&E is a 28 billion dollar company. He spoke in a threatening tone after denying that PG&E was at fault for damages. They wanted to avoid adequately compensating the victims because their primary objectives were to protect profits and avoid a public broadcast of their activities. This boldly shouts how big companies operate. They send in highly paid lawyers to speak on their behalf. They deny accountability and attempt to offer the smallest some of funds that will keep victims quiet. This is what the audience was forced to learn about the cruel world of capitalism. Businesses care more about their profits and pleasing their shareholders than the people who are affected by their practices.
Careful observation of this film reveals how liberal this movie is. For instance, Erin was a very scantily clad character in several of the scenes. For instance, she wore a pink tank top that revealed a polka-dot brazier at the law firm. She also wore skirts with lengths that were high above her knees. She used profanity with the same ease as breathing. In one scene, she even made a joke about performing hundreds of sexual favors in order to obtain the essential signatures from the plaintiffs. Erin was boisterous and rude. All of these things would normally shine a negative light on a woman. In reality, women are expected to dress professional in work environments and speak without screaming and cursing at people. This film somehow made Erin’s behavior acceptable and comical, although it is not the traditional way that working women should behave. Finally, people who are poor often get overlooked in society. Even in political debates, the candidates rarely address the needs of the poor. At best, they might mention a plan to help the middle class folks. The director of this movie may have intended to withdraw empathy from the audience by showing the plight of the low-income communities. He showed two things specifically. The people of Hinkley were not aware until later in the film that their power rested in the ability to unite in large numbers. Coming together as a massive sum of people seeking justice is what driving political change is all about. Secondly, the film showed how vulnerable people are when they don’t believe that their voice will make a difference.
In conclusion, Erin’s role was critical in proving the above-mentioned points because she is the person who mobilized the townspeople to demand compensation from PG&E. Politics is all about telling people what they want to hear even if its lies. PG&E told the people of Hinkley that the toxic water was not the company’s fault. Next, PG&E said their initial settlement offers were more than adequate for the plaintiff’s low property values. This movie also showed that the people’s voice did matter after all. It is a message that all voters should keep in mind.