Anyone who’s seen the 2019 Mark Ruffalo movie Dark Waters or the 2018 documentary The Devil We Know will already have heard of PFAS, the “forever chemicals” found in water supplies that have been linked to medical conditions including cancer and which were at the centre of a large number of lawsuits filed against the U.S. chemicals company DuPont.
John Oliver took a deep dive into them during the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, at one point bringing up a very cringey 1994 commercial featuring a DuPont chemist talking enthusiastically about the company’s products — including Teflon, a product DuPont made using the man-made chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which they then dumped into the Ohio River en masse and which scientists have since found has a “probable link” to pre-eclampsia, thyroid disease, and some cancers.
Oliver’s response to that ad? Draft in Danny DeVito to film a fairly brutal parody, filled with plenty of manic laughter and — as Oliver puts it — much-need context.
“People think of Teflon and they think of frying pans. Big hotplates with smooth, long sticks. Teflon is not one thing — it’s disease, sickness, and it’s fucking everywhere!” says DeVito.
“It’s not often you get to put something toxic in the world!”