Cli Fi Gets Under Denier’s Skin

May 26, 2015

GODZILLA-VS-THE-SMOG-MONSTER

Godzilla vs the Smog Monster (Godzilla vs. Hedorah) (1971)

Since “Frankenstein”, a consistent theme in speculative fiction has been the technological leap that turns on mankind.
Since the advent of the nuclear age, that theme is not only credible, but obvious.
Two of this summer’s biggest movies so far are “The Age of Ultron”, where the villain is a runaway artificial intelligence, and the Mad Max sequel, “Fury Road”, set in a climate altered future.  “Fury Road” has been particularly well reviewed, with a spectacular 98 percent rating on the “Rotten Tomatoes” website.

Deniers predictably uncomfortable.

asiancorrespondent.com

While the original Mad Max, starring now-tarnished Hollywood megastar Mel Gibson, took place in an Australia ravaged by energy crisis and lawlessness, 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road deals with a not-too-distant future dealing with the effects of climate change. The film stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, who recently, at the film’s gala premier in Cannes, drew the connections between our current inaction on climate change and the horrific future of Fury Road:

It felt very grounded in real events. The idea of globalization and global warming and drought and the value of water, and leadership becoming completely out of hand.

. . . there are images on Google right now of Sahara desert sand being blown, in that state, all through Africa. And that’s frightening. The hair lifted up on the back of my neck. What makes [the film] even scarier is that it is something that is not far off if we don’t pull it together.

(The far right news site) Breitbart is alarmed about the cli-fi trend.

breitbart

Noah Gittell in TalkingPointsmemo:

Still, we don’t have to project into the future to see the impact of climate change on our water supply. “[I]t doesn’t really require much exposition for the audience to buy a degraded world, because we already see evidence of it happening all around us,” Miller said. He’s right, and evidence can be seen all around the globe. Obama noted in his speech Wednesday that “severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram.” Meanwhile, California is in the midst of a four-year mega-drought that has led the state to try out rationing policies, and officials in Sao Paolo, Brazil are scrambling to come up with a solution to the city’s water crisis that may leave the city absolutely dry in just a few months. As policy experts work to come up with a solution, city officials are bracing for riots due to unrest. Conflict between states is also a distinct possibility, as many national security experts have predicted an era of “water wars.”

Does this mean we are headed towards the brutal, apocalyptic scenario depicted in Fury Road, in which the person who holds the water holds the power? Well, maybe. In addition to its well-researched take on climate change, Fury Road’s specific take on violence is also rooted in real-life geopolitical dynamics. Climate change merely sets the stage for the film’s action-packed scenario, but Miller’s true stroke of genius is connecting extreme weather to perhaps the next most significant global threat: religious fundamentalism.

Consider the character of Immortan Joe. He is a cult leader who in many ways seems to be a stand-in for Osama bin Laden, or any other leader of radical Islam. He has several wives—their escape ignites the film’s plot—as well as a cadre of young boys he has brainwashed into believing his myths. These boy soldiers dedicate their lives to him, having swallowed the lie that if they die defending him they will receive an eternity in paradise. They call this paradise “Valhalla,” a reference to the mythical land inhabited by Vikings who died in combat, but in our current geo-political context Miller it is hard not to associate this with Al Qaeda and global jihadism.

But not every summer tentpole movie is based on the dystopian vision. Disney’s Tomorrowland has a decidedly upbeat take on the future.

FastCoCreate:

Tomorrowland offers an engaging counterpoint to the Future Will Suck assumptions that have come to dominate sci-fi cinema from Blade Runnerto Elysium and Interstellar. Instead, director Brad Bird infuses this PG-rated Disney spectacle with the kind of heart, humor and optimism that made his Oscar-winning animated features The Incredibles and Ratatouille so endearing—and successful.

Bird wrote the movie with Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof, no stranger to worst-case scenarios from his script work on PrometheusWorld War Z and HBO’s The Leftovers. “l loved talking to Damon about what happened to our vision of the future,” says Bird. “Why was it optimistic for a hundred years or more, and then suddenly over the last 20 or 30 years, it gradually turns dark? It’s as if we’re all passengers on a bus that we don’t want to be on instead of being in control of the bus.”

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10 Responses to “Cli Fi Gets Under Denier’s Skin”


  1. ‘Cli Fi’ Gets Under Climate Denier’s Skin http://wp.me/pOYWd-6cV #clifi RE cli-fi.net


  2. When ever I get depressed I watch a couple of TED talks. The answers are out there if the politicians would just believe in a win-win outcome for every bill they pass. Conflicts are bad for the earth, and America.

  3. redbbs Says:

    Miller has been targeted by deniers for nearly 10 years

    http://thinkprogress.org/media/2006/11/21/8755/happy-feet-inconvenient-truth/


  4. Oh the irony in the last sentence “It’s as if we’re all passengers on a bus that we don’t want to be on instead of being in control of the bus.” The bus driver is named Kock, and he isn’t taking the highway exit we want!

    • dumboldguy Says:

      I prefer the irony in Disney’s last words in the Tomorrowland clip—-“….a place where people actually live a life you can’t find anyplace else in the world”.

      Actually, it’s all just more bright-sidedness, wishful thinking, and denial of reality. Technology and run-amok capitalism are going to destroy us, not save us, and even though we are getting closer to such “tomorrow” things as driverless cars, SHTF time will likely be upon us long before we actually develop a single place like the one you “can’t find anywhere else in the world”. People will be more likely to be fighting in the streets over rat carcasses and puddles of water than living in “tomorrowland”.

      • Paul Coppock Says:

        The idea of a little enclave where life is perfect (while the rest of the world goes down the crapper) is so . . . Republican.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Yes…..So Republican indeed. It may be possible for some of the richer ones—-but their ignorant foot soldiers among the tea partiers and bible thumpers are part of the 99% that will be kept out of the enclaves and will have to lump it with the liberals and the moochers.

          And note that my comment is drawing some thumbs down. Is it possible that we have some of those very Repugnants visiting Crock and my view of their perfect little fantasy world has upset them? Poor babies.


  5. […] Since "Frankenstein", a consistent theme in speculative fiction has been the technological leap that turns on mankind. Since the advent of the nuclear age, that theme is not only credible, but obvi…  […]

  6. russellseitz Says:

    One wonders what role Godzilla and the Smog Monster played in Roland Emmerich’s cinematic Bildung?

    Deacdes before The Day After Tororrow, his s post Earth Day Berlin debut, der Arkprinzep, was an oilfield fire climate dystopia.


  7. WELL SAID ABOVE RE ”I prefer the irony in Disney’s last words in the Tomorrowland clip—-“….a place where people actually live a life you can’t find anyplace else in the world”.

    Actually, it’s all just more bright-sidedness, wishful thinking, and denial of reality. Technology and run-amok capitalism are going to destroy us, not save us, and even though we are getting closer to such “tomorrow” things as driverless cars, SHTF time will likely be upon us long before we actually develop a single place like the one you “can’t find anywhere else in the world”. People will be more likely to be fighting in the streets over rat carcasses and puddles of water than living in “tomorrowland”.


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