Monkey Wrench Gang Movie With Matthew McConaughey as Hayduke

by Will Potter on June 30, 2009

in Activism & Activists' Response

monkey_wrench_gangEd Abbey’s classic The Monkey Wrench Gang is being made into a big-budget Hollywood movie starring–wait for it– Matthew McConaughey and John Goodman. And the director of “Twilight” is set to direct. I feel ill.

The Monkey Wrench Gang is Abbey’s classic tale of George Hayduke, an ex-Green Beret, leading a band of outlaws in a campaign of sabotage to defend the environment. Plenty of folks say the novel influenced the formation of Earth First! and later the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. If you haven’t read it, please do.

What’s most bizarre to me about all this is how, in the hands of someone like Matthew “Just Keep Livin'” McConaughey and the “Twilight” teenage-vampire crew, a story about property destruction is great fodder for a mass-appeal Hollywood film.

But in the hands of activists, the same narrative, in the form of a children’s book, is “eco-terrorism.” For instance, the government said Daniel McGowan was “promoting the criminal activity of others” by linking to the website of The Secret World of Terijian, a children’s story of a pint-sized Monkey Wrench Gang. (The government even included the full text of the children’s book in it’s response to McGowan’s motion for summary judgment.)

Monkeywrenching can be sexy and fun when it’s “just a story” produced by Hollywood. When the same narratives are connected to political struggles, it’s “terrorism.”

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