Thursday, September 14, 2006

bangs, not whimpers

The world isn't going to end any time soon. Not dramatic enough you see. Who'd watch a film about the gradual rise in temperatures, slowly increasing storm levels, average sized population movements, the occasional flood?

Global Warming has none of the glamour or pyrotechics of nuclear war, none of the immediacy of an asteroid strike, none of the sheer fun of giant worms, ants, spiders or tomatoes.

The Day After Tomorrow attempted to pack a decades-long slowdown and stopping of the Gulf Stream into a couple of hours. Deep Impact threatened us with not one but two asteroids. The War of the Worlds had cod-Martians ruining Tom Cruise's day, but you would rather think that aliens with a technology millions of years ahead of ours had mastered the art of quarantine. The Day the Earth Caught Fire was more a nuclear wish-fulfilment than a viable scientific scenario. Armageddon suffered from the inevitable 'Decent If Singular Americans Sacrifice All To Save The World' syndrome. Dr Who and The Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 AD never explained why van design had not progressed since 1960 and why Sugar Puffs adverts hadn't changed in 200 years. The Day of the Triffids had comical big plants chasing blind people around, but the book was so much more subtle and clever.

People need to feel frightened but safe at the same time. Martians and other dangerous fellows need to have weak points. Americans need to selflessly save the world at the last minute. But the real challenge and threat that's facing us is both more subtle and more terminal than anything spoilt rich Americans can think up to earn their next swimming pool under the Hollywood sun. There's no film in it, so the Americans will continue to ignore it until it's too late. Even Katrina is fading in their memories. Global Warming is just not sexy enough to sell. And that's exactly why it's happening.

Me, I prefer Survivors.

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