Saving the Ocean is “Mission Blue”: New Doc from Netflix

August 18, 2014


There are two reasons why you need to watch “Mission Blue,” the new documentary from directors Fisher Stevens and Robert Nixon that premiered Friday on Netflix. For one, it’s a fascinating exploration of the damage we’re causing in the world’s oceans. And even more enticingly, it’s the story of a singular, legendary woman who’s made protecting the seas her life’s mission.

Having begun her career in marine biology in a vastly different time — when the oceans were still largely pristine, and when female scientists were a rarity — Sylvia Earle has become leader in ocean research and awareness, set undersea records, raked in hundreds of awards and honors, established foundations and served as the first female chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Nicknamed “Her Deepness,” she’s also been deemed a “Hero of the Planet” by Time magazine and ”Living Legend” by the Library of Congress.

I could go on. But in seeing Earle speak, and then talking with her myself, the most fascinating thing I kept coming back to was how much she’s seen. After 60 years, and having logged nearly 7,000 hours underwater, she’s in a unique position to report back to those of us on land about what we’re missing. “Why am I driven?” she asks. “Because I can’t put aside the things that I’ve witnessed.”

Interview with Dr. Earle at link.

8 Responses to “Saving the Ocean is “Mission Blue”: New Doc from Netflix”

  1. jimbills Says:

    I watched it. Dr. Earle is truly inspiring, but the documentary is full of fanboy love for her instead of focusing on the truly dire state of the oceans. Still, it’s a vital subject in this era. Everyone should be familiar with the subject matter and care about it.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      “Fanboy love” is perhaps a good way to get people interested in her message and start to “care about it”. We already have the example of so many “celebrities” in the sports and entertainment worlds that contribute absolutely nothing to the world bur seem to be household words—-the Mileys, Kims, Justins, and Paris Hiltons. Remember Jacques Cousteau and Rachel Carson? Up with Sylvia!

      Yes, everyone SHOULD be “familiar with the subject matter and care about it”. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert has two excellent chapters devoted specifically to the ocean, with emphasis on acidification. Again, I can’t recommend this book too highly.

      • jimbills Says:

        Well, in my opinion, the documentary lessens its impact and scope by spending too much time on Dr. Earle’s personal history. It goes into all of her marriages, when she had kids, her parenting, and it repeats over and over how she was beautiful when she was young and starting out.

        The documentary ends up with the message that Dr. Earle rocks (and she really does), but it comes at the expense of really revealing how bad the state of the oceans is. The documentary does get into that subject, but its emotional impact is weakened by the hero-worship story line and it wastes time on trivial personal matters instead of really getting into the nitty-gritty of all the different factors affecting the health of ecosystems under the sea.

        I think ‘The End of the Line’ is a much better doc showing the human impact on ocean ecosystems, and it only really touches on overfishing (not acidification, dead zones, plastic and other pollution, and several other factors):

        “Mission Blue” might inspire some people to become oceanographers and scientists, especially women, but Dr. Earle has already been doing that her entire life. Her real desire now is to convince humanity to protect vast swathes of the ocean from any kind of fishing or activity (20% protected areas in a decade – we’re at about 3% now). To do that, we’d need a lot of people understanding the urgency and importance of the issue (and be willing to sacrifice their own desires to achieve protection). I think that the documentary ‘Mission Blue’ diverts some of the power of that message with the ‘fanboy love’ – and that’s a shame.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          “Well in my opinion…” says jimbills, who then goes on to do a Netflix -style “review” that misses the point of Mission Blue (as so many Netflix reviewers seem to do). I don’t get Netflix streaming anymore, and they haven’t released MBlue on DVD yet, so I’ll have to wait until they do to see it.

          From the Salon clip, what jimbills says, and other googles, It would appear that Mission Blue simply IS all about Dr. Earle first, her Mission Blue project second, and perhaps doesn’t deal with all the problems with the ocean’s health at sufficient length. So what? Does jimbills have a problem with someone making a documentary that mainly celebrates a talented and dedicated woman that has made major contributions? He says “she rocks” only after a rather misogynistic opening paragraph, and condescendingly allows in closing that Dr. Earle “might inspire some people”.

          I also find the use of “fan boy love” to be a misapplication of the term, as is the use of “hero-worship”. That’s the real shame here—-that jimbills can’t accept Mission Blue for what it is and be thankful that it may have some positive outcomes for those who view it.

          I DO agree with him that we are not paying enough attention to all the things that are going on in the oceans. IMO, the “marine sanctuary” idea is a bit “bright-sided” and a “day late and a dollar short”. It is unlikely to happen and it will do little good in the long run if we don’t deal with temperature rise, acidification, and plastic/fertilizer/chemical pollution as well.

          PS Off topic on the “unworthiness” of humans: Saw a piece on how ivory poachers in Africa are now doing wholesale poisoning of vultures, and in some areas vulture populations have declined by over 80%. Why? Because flocks of vultures circling over elephant carcasses tends to draw the attention of the anti-poacher patrols before the poachers can make their getaway. That’s the same attitude displayed by those who are destroying the oceans and getting rich by burning every last bit of fossil fuel—-unworthiness personified.

          • jimbills Says:

            oldguy – I am just giving my opinion about the documentary film. I think it COULD have been a lot more powerful, but it defuses that power with the dual focus. You haven’t even seen it, and yet you seem to be saying my opinions are completely invalid and again, you resort to several personal attacks (I’m misogynistic, use improper terminology, am unthankful, give a plebeian-style review, and that I miss the point.)

            I didn’t miss the point. I watched it. In addition to reading a lot about this subject, I’ve seen several documentaries about the oceans, and this one falls short – in my opinion. That’s a shame because it has a larger platform than many of the other books and films.

            Dr. Earle’s focus now is marine sanctuaries. That’s what ‘Mission Blue’ is:

            You can see that she is a bit uncomfortable with all the personal stuff, too, in the film when you watch it. Of course it’s fine to be a strict documentary about her, but that’s not what this film does. It tries to be both a documentary about her and a message about protecting the oceans, and as a result the power of the second goal is watered down.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Whine, whine, whine. Here you go again—-ranting about “personal attacks” and avoiding the issue. The issue is my OPINION about YOUR “opinions” regarding Mission Blue and Dr. Earle—-it is neither “personal” nor an “attack”, merely my observations that you were indeed “misogynistic, used “improper terminology”, were “unthankful”, “gave a plebeian-style review”, and did “miss the point”. Exactly so, and I’m glad you were able to summarize my points so nicely even though you still seem to NOT get them.

            And your opinions are not COMPLETELY invalid—-to the contrary, I value what you said to the extent that I may not bother watching Mission Blue when it comes out on DVD—-life is too short to spend watching such a “personal” documentary even when the subject is a worthy person. I accepted your opinion that it lacks “substance” with regard to the real problems, as you could have figured out from my comment about marine sanctuaries being a rather “bright-sided” idea (kind of like saving lions now so that they can be wiped out with everything else when much of Africa turns to desert).

            Your original comment and this followup comment show that YOU are guilty of some negative “fanboyism” here by insisting that MB “wastes time”, “diverts”, “falls short”, and is “watered down”. You insist on the validity of YOUR interpretation of what the film makers intended and what the message SHOULD have been. Dr. Earle may have been “uncomfortable with all the personal stuff”, as any good and humble person likely would be, but she must have thought that making MB was worthwhile or she wouldn’t have cooperated.

          • jimbills Says:

            oldguy – I’m cutting off the lines of communication with you. I’ve tried to be patient and kind with you, and I repeatedly get more of this. Please don’t engage with me ever again. On my end, I will simply ignore anything you post. Thank you.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    Jumbills? Have you gotten over it yet? Are you ready to go back to employing that good brain that you have demonstrated so many times in your comments on Crock?

    I was really surprised that you employed the “Doomsday Bomb” of debate tactics by “taking your bat and ball and going home” because the game was not going in a direction that suited you. And to do that on a thread that NOBODY is paying attention to is even more mystifying. We are the only ones commenting and the only “thumbs” that any of our comments have garnered was to the very first (and I gave it to you because I agreed with MOST of what you said). The “abandonment of debate” tactic, as it is more formally called, is usually employed by those who have had their arguments utterly destroyed by better arguments and better logic and have thrown up their hands because they have nothing more to say. Getting emotional and saying “more of this” (more of WHAT?) is either an admission of defeat or a demonstration of “egoism”, and I thought you were better than that.

    You speak of being “kind and patient” to ME? You need to go back and reread our exchange from the very beginning. Peter posted this as an interesting informational “throwaway” rather than because it has any real connection to climate change. Rather than take it for what is was, you felt the need to attack the documentary with the inappropriate label of “fanboy love” and complain that it did NOT deliver the message that you thought it should. My first thought was “I wonder if jimbills would dump on The Little Mermaid because it didn’t address the ‘truly dire state’ of the oceans”? Rather than go down that road, I was “kind and patient” with YOU, and tried to put a positive spin on your comment with my followup.

    I’m sorry to say that my comment caused you to double down on your foolishness rather than say something intelligent. You are way too sensitive and emotional about this little war you perceive we’re fighting, and it’s impairing your judgment—-it’s only a freakin’ blog, for god’s sake. No one who was thinking clearly would have ever stated “It goes into ALL of her marriages, when she had kids, her parenting, and it repeats over and over how she was beautiful when she was young and starting out”. You are surprised to be accused of misogyny? (Especially over “when she WAS young and beautiful”?—-she STILL IS beautiful—or are only young women beautiful in your mind?).

    “PLEASE don’t ever engage with me again”? And “THANK YOU”? You’re “CUTTING OFF lines of communication” and will “SIMPLY IGNORE anything I post”? How polite, patient, and kind of you—-and how self-deluded if you think that is workable.. For my part, I will read everything you post, think about it, agree with you and support you when you make sense (which is nearly all of the time), and tell you when you’re sometimes (rarely) FOS, because I’m your friend.

    And now I will always get the last word! And I can make statements about what you say without any arguments from you! Thank you for kindly providing me with such a wonderful soapbox!.

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