Sunday, May 30, 2004

The Day After Tomorrow, Part I: Leave the Science to the Scientists

This past Friday The Day After Tomorrow premiered: a happy-go-lucky romp about the end of the world that overwhelms in thanks to global warming. If you turned on the news at all on Friday, you would have the pleasure of hearing the mainstream media talk endlessly about the validity of the film’s claims: the devastation of the world will not only occur because of our own doing but it will happen in a weekend. While I was watching the “coverage,” the following question kept bouncing around in my mind:

Is there really so little going on in the world that precious time can be spent talking about if a claim in a big budget disaster film is valid?

This remains me of the endless discussions about genetic engineering that cropped up right after Jurassic Park opened. Of course it’s not possible, it’s fantasy: it’s a movie. As a testament to that, CNN brought on my favorite TV personality scientist—Bill Nye (the Science Guy)—who spent most of his air time explaining the complicated processes of the weather phenomena depicted in the film and all the hostess could ask is “But Bill, could this happen in a few days?” to which Bill finally and flatly answered, “No.” After Bill left, CNN continued to discuss the movie’s political ramifications as if there’s no difference between disaster happening over a lifetime (as Bill said was the fastest speed it could happen) and two days.

A lot of this silliness is nested in the public: if we see it in a movie, there’s legitimate reason to believe it can happen. There’s a lot of money and time wasted exploring ideas that some one saw in a movie. There’s a lot of panic that ensues because people take entertainment too literally (War of the Worlds, anyone?) Let’s leave the science to the scientists.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Two things:
1. Best part of the movie the end, when all the people were up on the roof tops as the helicopters landed. I was watching the movie with a friend of mine, and we both started laughing. It's wonderful when the last joke of the movie doesn't have to be articulated by MST3K methods, it's just there. What praytell, the last survivors of the U.S.'s big cities, some of the only survivors of the U.S. and the world (as we know it) are blown off the rooftops to their doom. Watch the ending again, and just picture the little CGI people unwillingly skittering off the roof like Mario on an ice level because of the gale force winds of a 'rescuing' helicopter. heheee...
Two: "There's a lot of time and money wasted exploring..." As Star Trek fans, we should be very careful with that comment and line of criticism.