Greasy Rider: Vegetable Oil Powers Benz Cross Country (Movie)


It is no secret that there is often a striking discord between how we speak about environmental issues and how we actually live our lives.  As we extol the benefits of “green energy” such as wind power, solar power, or geothermal energy, we will inevitably hop back into our fossil-fueled cars for our routine morning commutes.

Should we feel guilty for this hypocrisy, or is this just a product of the way things are?  In normative terms, should we insist upon personal changes to better the quality of our energy sources and the condition of our planet? Or, are we simply trapped within a vast oil-based system that by its very nature deems individual efforts to be futile?

With regard to the latter question, hypocrisy seems to be just swallowed and ignored because we presume that as individuals we can do nothing to change the status quo.  With regard to the former question, individual efforts are seen as important for progress.  Subsequently, a sense of personal guilt, obligation, drive, etc. sets in, and we might then act in accordance with how we so admiringly speak of green endeavors.

The SnagFilms title Greasy Rider follows filmmakers Joey Carey and JJ Beck, who exemplify the idea of ‘putting your money where your mouth is.’  The two set out on a cross-country road trip in a 1981 Mercedes-Benz, which is powered solely by vegetable oil.  Throughout the film, notable environmental activists such as Yoko Ono, Morgan Freeman, and Noam Chomsky comment on the need for alternative energies such as the biodiesel that powers Joey and JJ’s car.  The film and the boys’ journey across the States undoubtedly fights against the conviction that individual efforts to improve the environment are in vain. However, Greasy Rider does not forget the need for broader and more drastic political, economic, and cultural movements.  The film serves as an inspiration, both for individuals and for society as a whole, to change how we understand our roles in environmental undertakings.

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