Tuesday, April 1, 2008

oil! by upton sinclair

i was so impressed by the movie, there will be blood. i started reading the inspiring novel.

i have been trucking through it little by little and i suppose that a better reader would be done with it by now. a friend has been giving me a hard time, claiming it to be a testament to the quality of the book rather than my inability to read and for some reason i feel hurt by how he gives me the benefit of the doubt because i really enjoy the book.

i suppose that i must take my time to appreciate every development and nuance in this story much like a good christian would approach a romantic relationship.

contrary to what the title might suggest, the oil industry is more of a setting than a subject. oil! is a story of internal conflict and political values.

there are many differences between the book and the film. but paul thomas anderson never intended to make a film adaptation of the book. for example, the film focuses on mr. plainview with sort of a citizen cane story structure.

the book focuses on his son bunny, the idealist, more as a lense by which sinclair critiques the capitalist aristocrats. there is a recurring theme of privileged who, in their nativity and pride, take their wealth for granted and turn their nose up at the hard work that endowed them.

this theme is introduced subtly but early on in the story.

first, a boy named paul runs away from home because he disagrees with his father's evangelical beliefs and practices. later in the story, paul returns from world war 1 russia, having lost faith in his country and embracing communist ideas.

second, the oil king's daughter criticizes her brother bunny for sympathizing with the working class. she insists that the oil workers are filthy and godless creatures and not fit company for people of privilege.

and most of all, bunny's sympathy forms friendships and political brotherhood. when the oil workers go on strike, bunny's integrity is in check. he must choose between loyalty towards his friends and his family.

i do not feel it is too much to say that oil! is equally as important and relevant as huxley's brave new world.

every serious journalism student should read this book. sinclair is like the godfather of investigative journalism. he's the first muckraker authors and arguably just as relevant today as he was, seventy fives years ago when the book was written.


AlphaNerd said...

"Dr. Phil might act degusted but his intent was never to silence the Bumfights videos. His goal was to use Ty as a boogie man by which to make himself look good. Despite criticism from bloggers, it is fair to say that Dr. Phil succeeded."

I saw this Dr. Phil episode. It was a total pr move to boost his ego and audience perception of him as a moral dude. The creator mocked Dr. Phil by imitating his look and attire. I think Dr. P should've keep the guy on the show to create some discourse.

bRYEnd_of_the_schtick said...

(^ classic.
(^ straight out media manipulation.
(^ like acting crazy enough to not have to be bothered with monkey typwriterisahs incapable of friendships beyond surface greasepaint mode.