Forthcoming Glenn Beck film will “expose the truth” about Thomas Edison

The father of electricity "was really a bad man who was electrocuting animals,” the former Fox News host said

Topics: Glenn Beck, Electricity, elephants, thomas edison, ,

Forthcoming Glenn Beck film will "expose the truth" about Thomas EdisonGlenn Beck (Credit: Reuters/Chris Keane)

Former Fox News polemecist Glenn Beck is taking on Big Energy, sort of. No longer interested in politics (quoth National Journal: “‘I hated politics, I always have,’ says the man who’s made an estimated $90 million from his political opining”), Beck told National Review that he’ll now be taking on the man behind the light bulb, Thomas Edison, in a groundbreaking anti-Hollywood film that will “expose the truth” about this “bad man.”

Here’s National Review on the film, one of Beck’s many forthcoming cultural projects:

Another film will “expose the truth” about Thomas Edison, a villain Beck thinks has gotten a break from historians and whose real story demonstrates our flawed understanding of the 20th century. Though remembered as “this nice, kind of, good old Thomas,” Beck explains, “he was really a bad man who was electrocuting animals.” Edison,“was absolutely on the wrong end, and luckily for him the story ended happily with his name being taken off his own company and given to GE,” he says. “And all the people he tried to destroy and screw — he was screwed.” Beck is getting animated. “In the end, he was screwed, and with the same tactics he used on everybody else. I think that’s the story that needs to be told about Thomas Edison: He was a bad man.”

The animal he’s referring to, of course, is Topsy the Elephant, the unfortunate victim of Edison’s rivalry with Nikola Tesla and his alternating (AC) current. Edison electrocuted a number of animals in order to prove that AC was much more dangerous than his own form of direct current. Beck’s been known to speak wistfully of what the world could have been like should Tesla have been able to pursue his experiments in wireless energy (the best part: We’d never have to plug in our iPads).

Topsy’s story is certainly a tragic one. And on a metaphorical level, according to Beck, it’s an important reminder of “the implications that technological progress will have on humankind.” A peek at a transcript from one of Beck’s shows, in which he discussed Topsy-as-parable at length, suggests that there’s a political metaphor in there as well:

“This had nothing to do with humanity and everything to do with power,” Beck said. “When you watch the president today, understand that you may not be talking about electricity, but what you are talking about is power – a man’s willingness to do anything for unstopped, no-holds-barred power. That’s it.”

Can’t wait for the film? For just $30, you can pay credence to both the elephant’s memory and these lessons with your very own Topsy T-shirt from Beck’s official merch store.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email

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