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So Said Tony Hayward

William Carroll, Department of Sociology, University of Victoria (wcarroll@uvic.ca) — September 9, 2010.


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Lyrics

It's getting later than we think
Greed may have pushed things to the brink
'You know, I'd like my life back.'[1]
So said Tony Hayward

In seas so deep there can be no horizon as you lose your bearings to the corporate master
And the regulations that might lend protection are sunk far below anyone's dim reflection
When you add it up you get a grim conclusion as the methane leaks in criminal collusion
And by 10 pm the blowout breached the platform and a ball of hell consumed eleven workers:
Jason Anderson, Aaron Dale Burkeen, Donald Clark, Karl Kleppinger, Blair Manuel, Steve Curtis,
Gordon Jones, Wyatt Kemp, Dewey Revette, Shane Roshto, Adam Weise. They never found the bodies

The spill is 'relatively' small
The ocean's 'very big' indeed[2]
'You know, I'd like my life back.'
So said Tony Hayward

Two days later, April 22 and the sheen of blackness spread out to the north shore; sixty
Thousand barrels gushed out every hour fouling wetlands, beaches and the ocean floor
Local livelihoods were ripped and torn asunder, coastal towns sent into sharp decline
It's just the cost of doing business, paid by 'small people'[3] and denizens beneath the bottom line:
Fishing folk in Gulfport, crabbers in the Delta, Bayou shrimpers and the oyster trade
Pelicans and turtles, coral reefs and dolphins – the dead zone thickens as the life force fades

The spill is 'relatively' small
The ocean's 'very big' indeed
'You know, I'd like my life back.'
So said Tony Hayward

On April 22, 2010 the Deepwater Horizon ceased burning and went to bottom. On the same day, a mass international assembly at Cochabamba adopted a charter for action to protect the Earth from ecological devastation.

The Conference drew more than 30,000 from over 100 countries. Indigenous people from both South and North played a leading role in defining the meeting's philosophy and action program.
Among the demands – creation of an International Court of Climate and Environmental Justice with authority to prosecute states and companies that cause contamination and climate change.[4]


“So said Tony Hayward” is a music video featuring imagery dredged from the internet, based on a song I wrote in July 2010. It's a tango about the BP oil spill (Apil 20-July 15, 2010) and its disastrous impacts, focused around the story of BP CEO Tony Hayward's hapless efforts to spin and manage a massive, and televisually spectacular, environmental catastrophe. It's a mediation on neoliberal capitalism's indifference toward human lives and ecological health. “You know, I'd like my life back.” So said Tony Hayward before taking to his yacht for some R&R in the midst of the crisis – personifying the ethically rudderless professionalism of the executive suite. By chance, on April 22, 2010, the same day the Deepwater Horizon oil rig ceased burning and went to bottom, the Peoples' Conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia, reached an historic People's Accord – a 'Manifesto for Mother Earth' and 'a clear anti-capitalist analysis reinforced by a sketch of an alternative life-centered, democratic world' (Turner 2010). The music video trades on this coincidence to shift from a somber and occasionally satirical account of the disaster to a hopeful conclusion.

I think of this production as an socio-poetic initiative in public sociology: advancing an accessible, hopefully engaging analysis within an artistic medium – as a way of provoking reflection and discussion in various movements and publics. I hope activists and educators will find it useful in classrooms, meetings and other contexts. The YouTube version is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=4li0MzzRXMU.

A good source of information and insight on the Deepwater Horizon disaster and its aftermath is the series of articles by Kate Sheppard and Mac McClelland in Mother Jones (April 2010 until present). On the Peoples' Conference in Cochabamba see Ian Angus's “Cochabamba: Climate Justice Has a New Program and New Hope for Victory“ (The Bullet No. 347, 29 April 2010), part of which I have paraphrased in the lyric. Terisa E. Turner's 'From Cochabamba, A New Internationale and Manifesto for Mother Earth', a more in-depth treatment, will appear later this year in Capitalism Nature Socialism.

Notes:

  1. “BP CEO Tony Hayward says he's really motivated. He really wants to get this disastrous oil leak in the Gulf Coast plugged. After all, that's the only way he's going to get his life back. Tony Hayward announced over the weekend that while he's ‘sorry for the massive disruption’ the oil spill has caused, ‘there's no one who wants this thing over more than I do.’ ‘Y'know, I'd like my life back,’ he said.” TPM Livewire, 31 May 2010, accessed 20 July 2010.
  2. “Tony Hayward, the beleaguered chief executive of oil giant BP, has claimed the company's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is 'relatively tiny' compared with the 'very big ocean'.” Guardian 14 May 2010, accessed 20 July 2010.
  3. On Wednesday, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told reporters in Washington: “I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don't care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people.” 16 June 2010. Yahoo news accessed 20 July 2010.
  4. These lines paraphrased from Ian Angus, “Cochabamba: Climate Justice Has a New Program and New Hope for Victory,” The Bullet No. 347, 29 April 2010.

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