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You probably know that the Academy Award-nominated comedy American Hustle was loosely inspired by the ABSCAM scandal of the 1970s that had FBI agents hiring conmen to weed out corruption in the US government. Two of the films stars, Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale, have both admitted that the make-under look of their characters was inspired by real people involved with the case. Funny enough, one person who is stepping forward to cry foul on this reality-based feature wasn't a conman, congressman or a CIA agent. He's a journalist who feels the movie hurts his reputation with one throwaway line.
Paul Brodeur is a respected science journalist and author who spent much of the '60s and '70s writing about the health hazards of things like asbestos, the depletion of the ozone layer, household detergents and microwave radiation. And because of this last one, his name was dropped in a scene where flustered trophy wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) accidentally destroys the family's microwave (a.k.a. "science oven.") In the scene, she defends the destruction of the machine claiming, " I read that it takes all of the nutrition out of our food…I read it in an article by Paul Brodeur."
You can see the offending clip here:
Well, Brodeur has reached out to The Huffington Post to set the record straight. In a statement he wrote:
"I have never written in The New Yorker, where I was a staff writer for nearly forty years, or in any other magazine, or declared in any way that a microwave oven does any such thing. Indeed, I have publicly stated the opposite. (See People magazine, Vol. 9, No. 4, January 30, 1978.) However, I was the first journalist to write at length about the adverse health effects of microwave radiation (see The New Yorker, December 13 and 20, 1976, and books entitled The Zapping of America, W.W. Norton, 1977; Currents of Death, Simon and Schuster, 1989; and Secrets, A Writer in the Cold War, Faber and Faber, 1997.) I have also spoken publicly about the microwave radiation hazard."
Initially, I thought Brodeur was blowing this throwaway line out of proportion. In his letter he implies he has only seen the film's trailer, not the film itself. So he's missing the context that Rosalyn in a bit of a nut job and a liar. However, she does offer up a magazine, and cites Brodeur's name specifically, which might cause some to overlook these character clues and either assume that microwaves do kill nutrition and/or that Brodeur said so. As he dedicated decades of his life to consumer protection and educating people on health, I can see being pissed about being casually made a bit of a throwaway joke. Unfortunately for him, more people will see the movie than will read his response.