For several months, NewsBusters has been reporting the new horror movie genre "Global Warming's Gonna Kill You!"
Entering the fray is M. Night Shyamalan, the writer/director of 1999's smash hit "The Sixth Sense."
Set to open coincidentally on Friday, June 13, "The Happening" is Shyamalan's move "to milk global warming for all the terror and despair it's worth."
So say USA Today's "Weather Guys" (emphasis added, trailer embedded right):
Shyamalan's new global-warming-inspired film The Happening will open in theaters globally Friday the 13th of June. It sounds like the run-of-the-mill apocalypse movie; the Internet Movie Database posted that it is "about a family on the run from a natural crisis that presents a large-scale threat to humanity." Its movie poster illustrates the generic doomsday setting: a deserted highway littered with abandoned cars and shadowed by a dark, cloud-filled sky. (See: I Robot, Deep Impact, 28 Days Later.)
A movie spokesperson said that Shyamalan uses this movie as a platform to entice more preventative global warming action by showing audiences what could potentially happen to the world. This motivation sounds oddly familiar -- kind of like Al Gore's $50-million-grossing An Inconvenient Truth -- only Shyamalan's project is not a documentary but a movie, allowing for a good measure of embellishment for entertainment's sake.
"The film uniquely takes an in-depth look, through an imaginary story, at what could happen if the balance of nature, at the smallest levels, begins to break down," the spokesperson said. Imaginary, eh? That's a lot of leeway.
You bet it is, especially as Shyamalan says at the film's website, "I hope the movie leaves you with the sense that we may not get that chance [to move forward] if we don't start changing things."
In the end, Americans should be very afraid, not of the images Shyamalan presents, but of the likely reaction by the citizenry.
Let's understand that we have precedent in our nation for fictional movies impacting policy.
For decades, Hollywood showed us frightening images of the nuclear age culminating with 1979's "The China Syndrome." As a result, America moved away from nuclear power plants, a decision that still haunts us three decades later.
Now, the new bogeyman is global warming coming at a time of record energy prices and a slowing economy. Add it all up, and we are once again being scared by Hollywood to make policy decisions that could be economically devastating for years to come.
Are we going to learn from Hollywood's nuclear error, or make exactly the same mistake we did thirty years ago?