Saturday, January 21, 2017

And That's The Truth

Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman is an old acquaintance, but from his perch there he's been a bit too political and preachy. Take his recent review of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power.

A decade ago, when "An Inconvenient Truth" made its own splash at Sundance (and was picked up by Paramount, a deal that proved instrumental in turning it into a phenomenon), the film may have been "speaking truth to power," yet there was every reason to suspect that, like too many socially conscious Sundance documentaries, it could wind up preaching to the choir. But "An Inconvenient Truth" was that rare documentary that actually achieved what these movies always set out to do: It didn't just change hearts and minds--it shifted a paradigm.  The movie presented Gore as a charming dweeb professor of dire environmental warning, but it did more than offer a message.  It clanged the alarm bell and brought the news. It helped to free global warming from its pesky (and outdated) leftist underpinnings, establishing the issue as a mainstream concern in the same way that Occupy Wall Street would inject the meme of the one percent into the center of the middle-class culture.

Okay, it's a political movie, so a critic might want to discuss its politics, especially in the paragraph discussing the original Inconvenient Truth.  But Owen isn't just biased, he's misinformed.

He claims that film changed hearts and minds but, more important, created a paradigm shift. (Isn't that the same thing?)  Except it didn't.  It's easy enough for anyone to check the Gallup polls on global warming through the years, but Gleiberman is too busy spreading the fantasies that certain people wish to believe.

Truth is, Americans have had no problem believing in climate change.  According to Gallup, in 2000, 72% worried about it.  The number went down to 51% by 2004.  The number started rising at that point, going up to 66% by 2008.  An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006, and there's no evidence it created a significant bump.  The number went down again to 51% in 2011, but rose significantly in 2016 to 64%.  For that matter, in 1998, 69% of Americans saw global warming as a serious threat.  That percentage went steadily down until it hit 58% in 2008.  It went up again, and then down again, and is presently at 57%. 

It's not that people don't care about the issue.  It's just that when they're told the fixes will cost trillions of dollars, or their jobs, that they start having second thoughts. (And, perhaps, after hearing apocalyptic threats for more than a generation, they're fatigued.) Unfortunately, through the years, the issue has become more politicized (despite what Gleiberman thinks was the Gore effect).

If the film turned Gore into a "charming dweeb professor," he must be pleased.  In fact, he's not a scientist, but is a powerful politician, who may or may not be speaking truth to power, but does speak from a position of power to hundreds of millions much weaker and poorer than he.

And while we're at it, it's hard to say what the effect of Occupy Wall Street was, though it showed the middle-class just how radical the Left is in America.  I don't know if it harmed the Democrats too much, but they've certainly been doing a lot of losing since OWS started--while the Republican have been doing a lot of winning since the Tea Party started, even as the media favor the former and revile the latter.


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I just started watching the "Green" episode of "Bullsh*t," Penn and Teller's series on Showtime that presents unrelenting skepticism on all manner of subjects. I enjoy the show, even when they skewer beliefs I happen to hold myself. Trump should have named them to his cabinet.

The point is, while worry about Climate Change may rise and fall, and obviously reflect economic shifts, I think the trend to watch since Gore's crusade began is the steady rise in cynicism. Unshakable belief (or worry) in everything that is told (sold) to the public is declining as every major belief system, from religion to climate change to the American Way has experienced scandalous revelations of mistakes, manipulations and self-interest prevailing over truth. The very renaming of the concern from Global Warming to Climate Change undermined the argument more than Al Gore will ever know.

In my opinion, cynicism is why, ultimately, Trump won the election. He prevaricates - openly and blatantly, and people rather hear that than someone like Hillary Clinton claiming she should be trusted without question. In the end, people will judge politicians (and corporations and teachers and everything else) based on results, not what they were told.

Cynicism is why Clinton could not get away with acting like she didn't know what "wiping a computer hard drive" meant, while Trump yesterday could claim without ramifications that his inauguration was the biggest ever. No one cares about the latter because it's puffery (which we're all familiar with from decades of car salesmen, TV ads and sports enthusiasts). But when the public perceives someone is trying to change their minds in an untruthful or manipulative way, they become very resentful. This is why "Inconvenient Truth" hardened as many critics as it won over believers - it was full of exaggerations and inconvenient half-truths, which meant people had to take it with a giant grain of rising sea salt.

8:28 AM, January 23, 2017  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tremendously partisan analysis from an echo chamber. I mean the post and the comment

8:53 AM, January 23, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

If you think the post was partisan (and not post-partisan) could you be more specific? Gleiberman made very particular claims about the impact of An Inconvenient Truth and I simply tried to demonstrate they're not true.

10:58 AM, January 23, 2017  
Anonymous non-anonymous said...

Did you even read the post, or the comment, anonymous? They say almost nothing about the truth or falsity of climate change and mostly discuss how people take in information, including how Trump gets away with being an outrageous liar.

Forget "echo chamber." Anonymous didn't even hear the original sound being made.

11:03 AM, January 23, 2017  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

If a comment falls in the forest and partisans refuse to read it, does it make a sound?

Seriously, though, watch Penn & Teller if you get Showtime.

3:54 PM, January 23, 2017  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

You Guys are awfully mean to Anonymous.

A propos, I finally got around to reading "Liberal Fascism." Quite a work. I'm not really a Goldberg fan, but, while I haven't reached a final judgment on its credibility, it's impressive.

5:27 PM, January 23, 2017  

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