Normally, when someone writes an editorial or a letter to the editor that is critical of the Business Journal in some way or disagrees with me personally, we publish it without response from us. Reasonable people can disagree, after all, and everyone should have their say.

But this one, I can't let pass.

The director of the new documentary "Bananas!" scolded me in a letter to the editor published last week in the Business Journal. He said it was "irresponsible journalism" for the paper to publish, in the June 8 issue, an article on Page 1 headlined "The Big Slip-Up."

His main complaint was that we hadn't seen his movie, so we should not have written an article that made "conclusions as to its contents." As a result, he said the reporter who produced the article, Alexa Hyland, and I "failed to conduct appropriate objective research." He used words such as "outrage" and "offended."

The director, whose name is Fredrik Gertten, concluded: "Bottom line, to Hyland and the Business Journal see the film and then let's talk. Until then, all that has been presented here is a skewed report based only on biased speculation."

OK. I went to see the movie at its premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on July 20. So let's talk.

I'll let pass the fact that Gertten refused to answer questions from Hyland as she was reporting out the story, and therefore has little standing to complain that his view wasn't represented well. I'll let pass the fact that the finished article never claimed that we had seen the movie; the article used the phrase "according to the film's trailer and Web site. " And I'll let pass the part about how I invited him to point out any factual errors in the article but he came up empty.

But what I can't let pass is what I believe to be his hypocrisy. He wrote that Hyland and I are irresponsible because we failed to conduct appropriate, objective research. But that is exactly what he is so utterly guilty of.

The movie follows and pretty much glorifies a crusading L.A. lawyer as he represents downtrodden workers who claimed they were made sterile by a pesticide they used on the banana plantation in Nicaragua owned by Dole Food Co. of Westlake Village.

The man Gertten chose to follow, Juan Dominguez, is a personal injury lawyer who puts all those "Accidentes" ads on buses in Los Angeles. In the movie, he smokes cigars and zips around Los Angeles in his red Ferrari. But in Nicaragua, he becomes a straw hat-wearing savior to the common folk with promises of big paydays. He whips auditoriums of potential class-action plaintiffs into a frenzy of greed and hatred. He spouts lines like: "We are fighting a monster" and "Every death is a victory for Dole."

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.

Prev