The many myths of Erin Brockovich | Rob Lyons | spiked
Erin Brockovich might have made good cinema, but such simple parables are a poor guide to life. While corporations will always be concerned in the first instance with turning a profit, the idea that big companies are simply evil is rather childish and conspiratorial. As Frank Furedi has observed, this ‘conspiratorial imagination views people, not as the authors of their destinies, but as objects of manipulative, secretive forces. Life is interpreted through the prism of a Hollywood blockbuster, where powerful evil figures pull all the strings.’ Nothing fits this mindset as neatly as the idea that you are being slowly poisoned in the name of a fast buck.
The case should also remind us that activist lawyers are not necessarily the friends of the poor and the meek. PG&E may have paid out handsomely to settle the case in Hinkley, but the firm that Brockovich worked for took a substantial slice (40 per cent) of that settlement. Such payouts provide an unhealthy incentive for lawyers to go looking for big companies to sue - and for major corporations to become expensively risk-averse. That is not in society’s wider interest.
The truth about Erin Brockovich (not the Hollywood fantasy) | Curious Presbyterian
The real-life aftermath to events portrayed in Erin provides a sobering twist on this "true story." A month after this film opened, Salon magazine presented a lengthy article examining the actual case that Erin Brockovich and her boss Ed Masry had begun against Pacific Gas & Electric (www.salon.com/ent/feature/2000/04/14/sharp/index.html).
Author Kathleen Sharp conducted numerous interviews with residents of Hinkley, California, the town affected by PG&E’s alleged ecological negligence. She spoke with over twenty judges and attorneys familiar with the case that became Anderson v. PG&E. In addition, Sharp had access to letters the plaintiffs received from their lawyers, updating them on the case.
Sharp’s article tells us what we may not want to hear. While the real Erin Brockovich basks in the glow of the film’s successful reception, giving interviews and appearing on Oprah, the bitter citizens of Hinkley California have allegedly hired new attorneys and are preparing to file a spate of lawsuits against Erin’s firm.