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The Wasatch Behind: the Monkey Wrench movie

Sun Advocate Columnist

"I don't believe it," Uncle Spud said with some amazement. "Did you see they are going to make a movie about Edward Abby's book, the Monkey Wrench Gang?"

"I must have missed that," I said. "What's it all about?"

"Oh for Pete's sake," he growled. "Everybody has read the Monkey Wrench Gang. It's about a band of radical environmentalist tree huggers who save southern Utah by blowing up the Glen Canyon Dam. Edward Abbey, the patron saint of eco-warriors, wrote the book in 1975. It's one of his most famous books."

"I don't think they blew up the Glen Canyon Dam," I said. "I was there last fall and the dam was still standing."

"The book is a work of fiction," he growled. "It's a novel. Nobody blew up the Glen Canyon Dam. The book just tells people how to do it."

"Isn't that called terrorism nowadays?" I asked.

"Exactly," he exclaimed. "The book is a technical manual on how to be an environmental terrorist. That book, and Edward Abbeys' influence, helped to inspire the creation of militant environmental groups like Earth First, and ELF, the Earth Liberation Front. Those organizations are truly horrendous terrorist outfits who have done millions of dollars in damage to businesses, housing developments, logging, and mining firms."

"And now someone wants to make a movie about such a book?" I asked.

"You got it," he said.

"That's scary," I offered. "If the book had such an influence on radical environmental weirdoes, I can only imagine how a big-screen movie with all of the technical effects, wrap-around sound, and big-time glitzy movie stars will inspire those people. I think a project like that is irresponsible and should probably be illegal. "

"Controversy sells movies nowadays," Uncle Spud said. "And besides, the movie makers say it's all in good fun."

"I think that making a movie that glamorizes sabotage, terrorism, and anarchy is a terrible thing," I insisted. "There's no good clean fun in any of that. Acts of sabotage and vandalism hurt people and cost all of us millions of dollars in tax money and law enforcement that might be better used somewhere else."

"Well, it can't be all that bad," he insisted. "Robert Redford has offered to play a part in the movie, according to some reports. I'm sure old Sundance wouldn't be involved if it was a bad thing."

"Oh yes," I smiled. "Utah's own environmental champion, Robert Redford. The guy who looks out the window at his massive ski resort empire with tears in his eyes because Utah's canyons are becoming too crowded and overdeveloped."

"That's the guy," Spud smiled.

"I wonder if he'd be as eager to do the movie if it was about saving the earth by blowing up ski resorts instead of the Glen Canyon Dam?" I offered.

"Probably not," the Spudster grinned. "Those rich environmental guys want to keep their mansions in the canyons. It's the rest of us who are supposed to save the earth by living in caves without electricity and sport utility vehicles."

"I'll drink to that," I offered, as I poured the hot cocoa.

"By the way, Spud old buddy, did you ever read the book, The Turner Diaries? I wonder what Hollywood thinks about that little gem?" The Turner Diaries has a lot in common with The Monkey Wrench Gang. It was published at about the same time, and it too has become a cult classic for sub-culture weirdoes. It's about saving the earth too, but saving the earth for white people. Hitler would have loved it. And like The Monkey Wrench Gang, it was published by people who think that any means, including sabotage and anarchy, is justifiable if the end result gets the job done. I wonder if we'll see that movie anytime soon? I sure hope not. I wish Hollywood would stick to making movies like Gone With the Wind and Old Yeller."

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