'Day After Tomorrow' Assaults Science and Reason
by Jeff Wright, June 9, 2004
Yep, the assault on science and reason continues unabated from Hollywood. The latest offering, "The Day After Tomorrow," has little to recommend it from either standpoint. It is marginally passable as simple end-of-the-world-disaster fare.
The flick is a hodgepodge of pseudo-science and PC pronouncements all wrapped up in yet another global-warming/freezing diatribe. The straw man set-ups of all the so obviously tragi-comic, stupid, right-wing Neanderthals is so over-the-top I was beginning to wonder if the producers and director did it to show how egregiously ridiculous the left is in their pronouncements of the views of the right.....NOT! Hey, as much as I dislike the Bush/Cheney crowd and their own brand of ideologically-bred Dumb and Dumber routine, even this was too much!
By the end of the movie it is very self-evident that the folks who made this movie actually believe the crap they portray. The public pronouncements by the lead actors about the flick also have been instructive as to the level of ignorance that dominates Hollywood.
There were, however, a couple points I thought were somewhat instructive and interesting from the standpoint of audience dynamics. The first involved a scene at the New York Library when the surviving/displaced masses huddled there realized that fellow citizens had taken to the streets to evacuate the city at the beginning of a raging blizzard. Despite the warnings of one of the characters, that leaving the shelter of the Library was certain death, the lowing herd continued to shuffle out the doors at the direction and insistence of a NYC policeman. He being the only authority figure in attendance.
With no knowledge, but the certainty of his position of authority to order others around, he continued to order the crowd out of the Library and into the streets. Of course everyone who left the Library died in the ferocious blizzard and deep-freeze to follow, including the cop, shown in death's frozen repose in a later scene. Ah...so the lesson is...never trust the cops or authority, right? But wait, these guys don't really want the audience to get that message. They really want us to believe and do what they say.
The audience was given all the clues to know the cop was wrong and of course murmured in horror when everyone in the Library kept filing out at his insistence. However, one had to wonder if under similar circumstances and given the obsequious propensities of most folks in our society today relative to authority, most of those in the audience would have shuffled out the door, too. Highly likely, I'd say. The response to pseudo-science and authority in this country is becoming frightening in its implications for our future.
The second point involved the audience reaction to a scene of thousands of Americans fleeing over the border into Mexico and points south to escape the massive impact of the frozen encasement of North America. Many folks in the theater openly guffawed and hooted at the irony of the Mexican border officers trying to keep the gringos out. Only when it was announced (on the weather channel no less) that the US was forgiving all Latin American debts did those countries relent to the tidal wave of migration. Again, to more hoots and guffaws.
It seems hard for Americans to imagine any event which would cause them to be in such need of assistance. Yet, the perception of wealth, power and pre-eminence that most Americans hold in their head is already long gone. Our debt currently stands at more than all other nations combined and then some. We owe the world, they don't owe us anymore. The sheer, overwhelming confidence in US dominance and almost genetically-perceived American exceptionalism is a sight to behold, indeed.
The technical, scientific and other omissions and errors in this movie were too numerous to even begin listing. However, as with any semi-decent disaster flick where the CG and staging are executed with some competence, it is horrifying but intriguing to imagine and watch the effects of our largest metro areas being annihilated by titanic forces. It engages the imagination to wonder just what mankind would do in the face of such large-scale forces. I was relieved when I saw Dennis Quaid's character, climatologist Jack Hall, draw a line across the map of North America and tell the President to evacuate everyone north of the line. The middle of Colorado and the Palmer divide where we live was below the line. Thank goodness my family and I are going to make it!
I believe disaster thinking is the ultimate attraction for most to this genre. It is the only thing that held me from leaving (the movie! NOT Colorado!), I admit. However, given comments I've heard and seen written, it seems disaster entertainment is the only attraction for most. Witness the slew of these films that destroy New York and Washington, DC, over and over. Some by the same directors. This time we got LA, too! Cool!
Saddest of all is the number of people who, while they may doubt the probability of such events as depicted in "The Day After Tomorrow" occurring anytime soon, will accept the essential message. That message being: "Mankind's activities surely are causing such global changes in the climate that there will be hell to pay at some point! Therefore, the masses should give over their souls and futures to government to direct all our activities and to the ever-concerned, hand wringing, Union of Concerned Scientists and their outriders, as they know best."
Both the movie, along with the usual line-up of environmental groups, state the obvious but never examine the meanings. Dennis Quaid's Jack Hall, points out in the movie that such dramatic global climate shifts as he was now predicting happened 10,000 years ago and many other times in the distant past. No further examination of that statement. All other statements made by the "smart" characters in the movie point to mankind as the cause of global warming and now causing this global freeze.
The movie, no different from a government grant-seeking scientist, fails to note that the actual Antarctic ice-core temp/atmospheric gas correlation studies show that the climate has shifted dramatically around fairly consistent 125,000-year heating and cooling cycles of 8-10 degrees over the last half million years. They also don't mention those same ice-core studies show that we are just past the peak of the last heating cycle.
In fact, we are still about 4 degrees over the average earth's atmospheric temperature over that half-million year period. That is still well below many pre-historic warming peaks in the cycles. Geo-historically earth has been much, much hotter and cooler than today in relatively recent geophysical time. The earth is now in one of the most temperate and climatologically calm periods in a very long time. However, we are right on schedule to begin sliding right into another cooling period over the next several thousand years. But given past patterns it is also possible we'll experience another up tick in warming, first. That's what the data show.
But hey, how could any of that be true? If mankind's activities are to be the cause all of these divergent and horrendous effects, what caused them the last time? Our campfires and mammoth-belching perhaps? Or the time before that? Or before that? Could it be that there are gas and temperature cycle effects on this planet of which we don't yet understand the cause? Nah! Hollywood, the greens and enviros, and the grant-writing offices of the government already got it all figured out. WE DID IT! And by golly, you'll start following the green program (or is that pogrom?) or else! Where's my little electric car like all the central characters in the movie had?
I've never heard or seen a single mention in the media or general press of the fact that one active volcanic eruption for a few short months spews out more noxious hydrocarbons, green house gases, ash and particulate matter into the atmosphere than do all the cars and factories on earth in decades. THE DATA also show civilization's contribution to the normal greenhouse gas cycle to be only around 3% of the natural total average. That amount will get lost in the next couple of volcanic eruptions.
Maybe this type of stupidity will end soon. But I doubt it. It's too convenient. And it's hard to get a grant these days if your research runs against the environmental PC grain. That's why I sarcastically tell my green friends they need to save the planet and kill themselves. That may be the only hope the rest of us have.
In the meantime, I guess I'll just get by on disaster entertainment. Actually though, I'm waiting for "Alexander." At least a portrayal of one of history's "greatest" individuals may prove rewarding. Alexander had an enormous effect on just about all of more modern history. We can only hope Hollywood doesn't mess up history as badly as they do science and reason.