Oh, damn. I had such high hopes for—or at least hopes of something different from—Marc Morano’s film Climate Hustle. As the title might imply, it’s a low-budget documentary on the climate change controversy; it somehow wrangled a one-night showing at a number of major movie theaters around the country this Monday.
You see, I live in miserably cold and murdery, but otherwise wonderful, Chicago. So I keep hoping that global warming is going to come true, because I hate being cold with a passion, but I don’t like anyplace else that I’m legally allowed to move to. I have been sick all “spring,” and I really need Chicago to turn into Georgia as soon as possible (and who doesn’t want to see California and DC underwater?).
So I was hoping that the makers of Climate Hustle would either be patently, absurdly, or obviously wrong in their assertion that global warming isn’t really a thing—or that at least they would have turned out a great movie that effectively presented the case for climate change skepticism while educating me about the issue. Monkey-driven climate change is not an issue I’ve taken much time to look into, mostly because my own behavior has almost zero impact on it one way or another. I’m too blind to drive, too pessimistic to breed, too cheap to buy a lot of junk, and too beige to be noticed at some retarded global warming protest, so it’s not in any way crucial for me to know whether I need to change my behavior to save us all from doom. Either way, tomorrow morning I’m still going to be toodling around on the el train eating generic peanut butter and throwing random toddlers off the platform whenever the doors open. (I do this not for population control but for entertainment; if it turns out that we actually need more people in order to, I dunno, plug the hole in the dike or something, I shall go on tossing them off anyway.) There are a trillion things to learn in this world, and learning about one of them in two hours sounded like a great bargain.
Well, I got neither hope for a warmer future, nor a mini-education, nor an entertaining package. What I got was a cheerleading session for people who are already versed in the subject. Since I’m fond of crimethinkers, it was possible for me to glean some information in the cracks between the filmmakers’ god-awful attempts to be flashy, entertaining, and (Valhalla help us) funny—but it wasn’t easy, and it sure as hell wasn’t fun.
Yes, the film indicates that there may be a good deal of evidence to indicate that global warming is full of it. It also presents plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that pro-global-warming scientists have a marked tendency to ostracize peers who dare to even question the enforced consensus. And the filmmakers dug up some great news footage from the 1970s, back when the media were telling everyone that the thing to fear was global cooling. Now that our attention spans are about as long as a Twitter trend lasts, it’s hard to remember that global warming only became a thing in 1988.
But no, this film doesn’t do the footwork for the viewer. I think it means to, but any reasonably critical thinker is going to have to spend time looking up the scientists interviewed herein, and will have to check and review the facts the filmmakers sped past on their way to the next bad joke at Al Gore’s expense. (The humor bits in Climate Hustle are so clumsily manipulative that I can’t tell whether they’re mocking simplistic propaganda or engaging in it.)
This would be OK if the film were designed to appeal to a wider, that is to say politically diverse, audience. Simply getting a larger number of people interested in the forbidden side of the debate would be a real public service; even if newcomers didn’t bother to check any of the facts, being presented with them in a professional manner would be enough to plant doubts in their stupid minds. The key to appealing to the idiot masses is all about seeming at least as “official” as the officials. Or at least not being annoyingly wacky—like a cougar working at the DMV who’s still trying to be hip. Although these guys are actually more reminiscent of a pre-Howard-Stern morning zoo crew. Dipshit radio is dead, fellas.
Granted, there are some quite decent interviews in the film—including one in which Bill Nye the Science Guy unabashedly makes himself sound like a fourth-tier flunky to Chairman Mao. Unfortunately, most of the connective tissue between the interviews consists of cheesy skits performed in front of heinous green screens. And God save us from the montages; they are precisely what would happen if Alex Jones sprinkled those supplements he hawks on top of a roller of cheap crack and stayed up all night playing with a Commodore 64.
To be fair, they made one point very well early in the movie: the much-touted stats claiming that “97 percent of scientists agree with global warming” are bully-boy horseshit. The study that this number comes from polled only 77 scientists. The people who did the study have begged everyone else to quit citing it, presumably because they’re embarrassed. And most members of the resulting, snowballing “consensus” on global warming might be scientists—but only some of those are actually working in the Earth sciences, much less climatology. The rest are in other disciplines, and they agree to the consensus because they trust the scientific method and tend to give their colleagues the benefit of the doubt, not suspecting that the consensus to which they add their voices is based on a doofily small sample. If this film can do us one good turn, it’s to make that fact common knowledge to the scientific community, and perhaps give skeptically minded scientists a bit of courage to give the issue another look.
But most of it skimmed far too lightly over material that anti-global-warming lay fans apparently already know about—aiming to elicit a self-satisfied smirk of agreement from the already-converted—with no concessions to those of us in the cheap seats. If I as a viewer were closed-minded about the issue going in, it would be ridiculously easy for me to dismiss this film. Much fun is made of the enemy’s use of dirty tactics, but as few multi-syllable words as the filmmakers tried to use, not a lot of dots are successfully connected in their own argument. It felt like the first draft of a short story that was scribbled out by a young writer who still labors under the delusion that the reader can somehow read his mind.
In other words, this was another tiresome case of preaching to the choir. No doubt people who are already climate change nonbelievers got a lot of feel-good out of watching jerks like Bill Nye fall on their dogmatic faces; in the Chicago theater where I saw it, most of the audience forced out choruses of derisive and self-satisfied laughter whenever the bad guys were clumsily skewered, and everybody left the theater in a happy mood. But the filmmakers’ strengths were not in persuasion, or comedy, or acting, or set design, or scriptwriting, or pacing, or… well, you get the picture.
And they’re simply terrible conspiracy theorists. Though they darkly hinted at possible reasons why Al Gore et al want you to think climal globewarming or whatever they’re calling it now is occurring, there was no articulation of those reasons; I’ve heard more thorough explanations of the global warming conspiracy in toss-off remarks in podcasts about Prince dying. A couple of interviews included the claim that the poorest people in the developing countries are the people who are going to be most horribly impacted by attempts to reduce carbon emissions, but the narration never even attempted to explain why.
It’s not that I don’t believe this point. Logically, it will take a lot of energy to develop developing countries, right?—but they didn’t even articulate that much. They just hinted once again that the bad guys want poor people to suffer. Why? Do they get money when that happens or something? It all got lost in the wacky skits about “government agents” in piss-poor costumes inspecting people’s lamps.
There were a couple of genuinely funny moments, but they were skimmed over too quickly; for instance, they scrolled a long and ridiculous list of things that global warming has been superstitiously blamed for, but it was yanked too fast for me to note down anything more than “fish go deaf,” “acne,” and “planes fall out of sky.” The bit where they ask one of the former-goodthinking scientists who was fired from her job for heresy whether global warming is to blame for airline turbulence is priceless just for the look on her face.
But although they did a good job of milking quotes from Left-leaning scientists who have been cast out of the flock for climate witchcraft, they seemed to have done so mostly in order to convince the (mostly Right-wing) crowd of laymen who already disbelieve global warming that a wide variety of smart people are on our side. Hooray! Cue the cheesy wind and rain effects.
If they seriously wanted to inform or convert any noticeable number of Leftists, they would not have—for example—padded out the end of the film with a discussion panel that included Sarah Palin. That woman is like kryptonite soaked in rat poison to Leftists. (And to editor-types as well—Jesus Christ, I have never heard a human being with no brain tumor and an intact mouth struggle so piteously to make words out of its thoughts in my life. She could be out-talked by that dude who cut his tongue up so he could be a dragon.) I guess she was the only celebrity they could afford, but it would take a leftist of exceptional open-mindedness for the breed to walk into a movie featuring climate heresy AND the moose mom. Just be yourselves, guys.
Final verdict: a terrible primer on an interesting subject and what is probably an intrinsically hilarious nest of hypocrisy. I want my $18 back so I can hire someone to let the air of out Bill Nye’s bicycle tires.