are we stupid?

Submitted by Ahmed on Mon, 2009-07-13 17:21


"I think we are blind. Blind people who can see, but do not see.” ~Jose Saramago

65 Million years ago, the dominant lifeform on this planet was wiped out.

We currently have no way of understanding how or why millions of dinosaurs simply ceased to exist. But, what we do know is that we might be joining them soon, and it's all our fault.

On Wednesday I managed to see documentary filmmaker Franny Armstrong's take on climate change and global warming, The Age of Stupid at the Encounters documentary festival at the V&A Waterfront here in Cape Town, and it's pretty scary and incredibly hard hitting stuff.

The movie begins with a bang – the big one, and it charts the cooling of the solar system, the formation of earth and ultimately the beginning of life. And in a frantic montage jumps to the year 2055...the end of life. Here we meet a lone archivist, played by Pete Postlethwaite (who will always remind me of Mr Kobayashi in the mind-bending The Usual Suspects), who records a last-minute message to... well... whoever is out there to get it (though it is not implied, it is like we are receiving his message probably through a time warp of some sort). Whereas this futuristic pretext might seem trite, it actually works because the focus doesn't seem to be on the flooded and burnt earth, but rather how it got to be that way... due largely to our inaction.

Climate change can often be bogged down by graphs and statistics. This movie tends to illustrate more immediate and emotional stories, which add a sense of empathy; something which was lacking in Al Gore's movie. The big baddies are Consumerism, Oil and Imperialism – and I could attack all of them ad infinitum, but I won't because the movie does that with a greater sense of finesse, and with awesome animated sequences.

Look, it's not a feel-good movie. The point of it is to take our blindfolds off, and smack us around with it until we see what is really happening; and what's happening ain't pretty. But, here's the thing... YOU KNOW THAT, otherwise you wouldn't be here, reading this.

What about the rest of us? What about those who can't see beyond their 9 to 5 or are too caught up watching Idols to care about something like climate change? I think that's why this movie was made.

Unfortunately, it doesn't have a big budget, or hot women, or over-the-top special effects, or fart jokes, or flashy cars, or shape-shifting robots. This means it might not make it on to the mainstream cinemas and lots of people won't get to see it.

The reason? It has a message – it makes you think. And people don't like to think, because the moment they start thinking, they get uncomfortable, and unhappy, and start to see how terrible things really are – they begin to feel they have to do something. Corporations and governments don't want that – because that's how revolutions start.

Another problem with big budget blockbuster movies is that we have become numb to certain scare tactics. We are so used to seeing the impossible up on the screen, that images of a flooded London, don't seem to do much to us anymore. Luckily the film uses a lot more than simple special effects and it does succeed in hitting some emotional pressure points. I'm pretty sure that that is what will help it to resonate with people.

The next showing of the movie will be tonight, Mon 13th. Please book, and bring whoever you can along too. If you're not in Cape Town, you can always visit the film's website, or we could always create a petition of some sort which can make Ster-kinekor or NuMetro aware that we want everyone to see it.

It really is the way to get people to mobilise out of this age of collective and conscious stupidity...

And any movie that has Radiohead in its soundtrack is awesome in my books.