Often when an investigative documentary ends, it is only the film that stops, while its story continues beyond the credits. For example, any doc with allegations against a corporation, institution or government is going to lead to further debate and discussion. Actually it's a safe bet that such a doc will garner a full public dispute and/or press-released defense if not also an extensive attempt to discredit everyone involved with the film. Therefore it is not surprising that General Motors has quickly come out with its own side of the story told in Who Killed the Electric Car?, a film which hardly makes outright claims so much as it asks obvious questions about GM's recall and demolition of its EV1.

GM is not a stranger to being the subject of investigative documentaries. Michael Moore's debut film, Roger & Me, hit the company's image hard when it became a surprising success in 1989 and popularized the investigative doc format. But even though Who Killed the Electric Car? is not nearly as well made as Roger & Me, and it probably will not have as big an audience, no potentially harmful film is going to be ignored by the business it might damage (see the story of Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, which never got wide distribution but still caused a fuss with the superstore chain).

GM's answer to the film is in the form of a posting by spokesman Dave Barthmuss on the company's FastLane blog. I won't go into his statements because this isn't the place for that discussion, but I would like to point out that Barthmuss has not seen the film, and that should be an immediate mark against him. Not only does slamming a film he hasn't seen make him obviously unfit to do so, it puts a dent on the credibility of GM's whole argument. I didn't even enjoy the film, but I would certainly watch it again if I was going to intelligently discuss its contents. I'm sure GM's stance on the issue won't change after viewing Who Killed the Electric Car? but wouldn't it help their side to have Barthmuss spend 92 minutes at the movies? Or at least have him lie about seeing it?

categories Cinematical