As Predicted, Attacks on Thrive, the Movie Have Begun
By Staff News & Analysis - April 12, 2012

Author John Robbins, Other Progressives Denounce 'Thrive' … The Santa Cruz-based author is joined by Deepak Chopra and others in a statement distancing themselves from the film … Robbins says filmmaker Foster Gamble, a friend of his, is "naive" about the political consequences of his new film 'Thrive.' Last fall, the acclaimed environmentalist and nutrition guru John Robbins was invited to the home of his friends Foster and Kimberly Carter Gamble, near Santa Cruz, to view the Gambles' just-completed film, Thrive. Robbins, who makes a brief appearance in the film, says he was "overwhelmed" by what he saw. "There were parts I liked, but there were other parts that I just detested," he recalls. "I didn't want to be rude—we were there with our families—so I just didn't say anything." –

Dominant Social Theme: "Thrive" is a movie by, of and for kooks.

Free-Market Analysis: As we suspected, the counterattacks have begun. We questioned "Thrive" and its composition from the beginning, but liked it more once we saw it. We intervierwed the movie's maker who certainly seems sincere about it, and at the time we suggested we shouldn't have jumped to certain conclusions.

But despite our more favorable impression, we remained skeptical about certain aspects of the film. While the film has reached over a million viewers and has had a considerable impact, we were always somewhat doubtful of the larger composition. We wrote this after we interviewed him:

In previous comments, we were negative about Thrive, pointing to its supposed "New Age" and "aliens-among-us" approach. In this review we were certainly more positive. But as part of our larger effort to be even-handed, we should probably point out that the movie has been alleged to contain Illuminati symbolism in certain graphics and certain supposed factual errors. As we mentioned above (and suspected) the movie is being accused of subtly fostering a one-world agenda …

And now the attacks on the movie, predictably, are growing. The attacks are aimed at the parts of the film we were most doubtful about – the "New Age-y" stuff and the "aliens among us" meme.

What this surely does is discredit the movie's larger message about the Way the World Works. That message, featuring an explanation of the power elite that apparently wants to control things globally, is an important one. But it is in danger of getting confused with other issues. Here's some more from the article:

Thrive, which was released online in November and had its theater debut at the Del Mar last month, is an uncanny hodgepodge of pseudo-science, Utopian fantasy and veiled right-wing conspiracy theory. Strangely, it also includes onscreen interviews with a number of bona fide progressives, environmentalists and spiritual leaders.

In addition to Robbins, author of the groundbreaking Diet for a New America in 1987, the film features conversations with Deepak Chopra, the superstar self-help author; Paul Hawken, the green entrepreneur and environmental economist; Elisabet Sahtouris, the evolutionary biologist and philosopher; Duane Elgin, the futurist and author of Voluntary Simplicity; Vandana Shiva, the physicist and advocate for sustainable agriculture; and former astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

In the months since the film's release, Robbins says, he has been in communication with all of these folks. He wasn't surprised to find that many of them agreed with his assessment of the film. While they might have hoped the film would just disappear, Thrive has become something of a Web cult phenomenon—by some estimates it's been seen by more than 1 million people. And now they have decided to speak out.

In a just-released statement, Robbins, Chopra, Hawken, Sahtouris, Elgin, Shiva and Mitchell write that they have "grave disagreements" with some parts of the film. "We are dismayed that our participation is being used to give credibility to ideas and agendas that we see as dangerously misguided. We stand by what each of us said when we were interviewed. But we have grave disagreements with some of the film's content and feel the need to make this public statement to avoid the appearance that our presence in the film constitutes any kind of endorsement."

Robbins's complaints are aimed at the film's "politics." But there are other blogs accusing the film of factual inaccuracies. And Gamble has admitted to some of them. He is being attacked for his contentions that crop circles are real and for statements he made regarding extraterrestrial involvement in human affairs.

From our perspective, most everything on Earth can probably be explained by human involvement. But the net result is that the larger points being made in the movie come under scrutiny, too.

We made these points initially. During our interview with Foster Gamble, we were pleasantly surprised by his openness and seeming determination to spread a message we agree with. But we thought this might well happen.

Gamble's inaccuracies are giving his opponents openings to attack him and discredit the movie's larger themes. So much of the alternative media conflates various unprovable or at least unproven theories (such as flying saucers) with free-market economics and investment strategies.

The net result, unfortunately, is to render even the factual elements of what we call free-market economics somewhat dubious to many 'Net viewers who might be more open-minded in another context.

After Thoughts

We felt Gamble's approach, or parts of it, invited attacks, and they have. We're sure Foster didn't intend it, though the more conspiratorially minded among us might be speculating, no doubt, that he did.