Knowledge leads to ResistanceFluoridation is a 68-year-old public health controversy involving state legislatures, court cases and many heated election referendums. But there has never been a U.S. network TV documentary on this subject ever seen on television. There is a reason for this - the more a person knows about fluoridation, the more likely they are to oppose it. U.S. health authorities would prefer people not know too much about fluoridation and keep putting their faith in institutions that are unlikely to change no matter what scientific evidence comes to light. They are happy that Hollywood has kept this topic out of films and television, except when they ridicule opponents.
It may be a long time before there are any sympathetic characters opposing fluoridation in a big Hollywood production. Huge legal liabilities and professional reputations are at stake. People's health and the truth are secondary to these interests.
How Hollywood has typecast opponentsDr. Strangelove, 1964: The crazy General Jack Ripper talks about fluoridation, saying it's a communist plot. After talking about it, he steps in front of a window that machine gun fire tore up, complimenting the soldier that just tried to kill him. He's obviously some kind of nut risking his own life. Although American communists supported fluoridation, they did not invent it. Most communist countries either never bought into the idea or stopped doing it after they saw the negative results.
In like Flint, 1967: A character suddenly goes crazy and grabs a microphone, saying, "I call on all loyal Americans, picket the White House, write to your congressman, don't let them fluoridate your water!" He's taken away saying, "I am deposed. For God's sake let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings." Then we see the authority characters in the room with disapproving expressions on their faces.
Conspiracy Theory, 1997: A taxi driver played by Mel Gibson rants about fluoridation over the opening credits of the movie. He says fluoride is added to water on the "pretext that is strengthens your teeth. That's ridiculous." Actually, he's right about that. No authority claims that fluoride makes teeth less likely to chip, crack or break. So fluoride actually does not strengthen teeth except to make them a bit more resistant to tooth decay. Mel Gibson's character then goes on, spouting wacky conspiracy theories that make him look crazy.
The powerful forces behind fluoridation counted the NBC Parks and Recreation show as a significant victory this year. It's like they got a free "product placement" for the policy they pitch - water fluoridation. But Americans who oppose fluoridation are not the stereotyped characters of Hollywood films.