Big Boys Gone Bananas!*


Freedom of speech might be the subject of Fredrik Gertten’s self-centered documentary Big Boys Gone Bananas!*, but the film’s protests of censorship ring hollow given its selective version of the truth. In 2007, Gertten made a different documentary called Bananas!*, which concerned a group of Nicaraguan plantation workers who sued Dole Food Company. Dole, whose representatives had yet to see the film, condemned and suppressed it, and said it portrayed the company in a negative light and relied on false evidence used against the company in the 2007 court case Tellez v. Dole. Gertten spends much of Big Boys Gone Bananas!* documenting his increasingly public struggle to get his previous documentary shown. But in the process, he conveniently omits the fact that the Tellez v. Dole case was dismissed in March 2011 because the Nicaraguan plaintiffs did in fact submit false testimony. Although the film fashions Dole’s attempts to silence Gertten as a prime example of a greedy corporation squashing a humble, unbiased truth-teller, Gertten’s points about the way corporations use the media to squash negative publicity is directly undermined by his own lack of transparency and his refusal to give a proper context for Dole’s complaints. As a result, Gertten’s film is monotonous and self-serving. Unlike Bananas!*, which Gertten repeatedly claims is a relatively unbiased documentary, Big Boys Gone Bananas!* marginalizes the voices of almost everyone, save for Gertten’s. And without much feedback from the Nicaraguan workers or the Dole representatives whom Gertten is combating, Big Boys Gone Bananas!* comes across as just a reductive and uninformative piece of agitprop. Simon Abrams