In the past four days, the New York Times published two reviews of "Arctic Tale," a new film about polar bears threatened by - wait for it! - global warming.
Makes one wonder whether the need for two reviews versus the normal one was due to the Times's desire to advance alarmism concerning the great, liberal bogeyman of climate change, or that the screenplay was co-written by soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore's daughter Kristin.
Whatever the reason, both articles were certainly chock-full of scary global warming references like the following from Andrew C. Revkin's piece from Sunday (emphasis added throughout):
Gripping moments like this abound in "Arctic Tale," a new film exploring challenges facing polar bears and walruses, two familiar denizens of the icy, but warming, seas at the top of the world.
Providing the characters with names, Ms. Robertson said, makes it easier to relate to the animals through the stages of their lives. The Hollywood tactics also ensure that the movie plays as a parable about adjusting to changing conditions on a warming planet.
The Arctic in recent decades has experienced sharp warming and a dramatic pullback of sea ice in summers, developments that many climate experts attribute at least in part to the buildup of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere. Should these recent trends persist, they say, later this century the Arctic Ocean - routinely cloaked with sea ice for thousands of years - could be open blue water in summers.
The shifting conditions prompted federal scientists last December to propose a "threatened" listing for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act and a fresh assessment of the species' prospects is under way.
Interesting that Revkin, though a science writer for the Times, chose not to actually share any real numbers about the polar bear population in the Arctic. After all, regardless of the alarmism surrounding this issue, there is great debate concerning how the total population of polar bears is actually doing throughout the planet.
For instance, New Scientist published the following concerning this issue on May 17 (emphasis added):
There are thought to be between 20,000 and 25,000 polar bears in 19 population groups around the Arctic. While polar bear numbers are increasing in two of these populations, two others are definitely in decline. We don't really know how the rest of the populations are faring, so the truth is that no one can say for sure how overall numbers are changing.
The two populations that are increasing, both in north-eastern Canada, were severely reduced by hunting in the past and are recovering thanks to the protection they and their prey now enjoy.
Yet, that didn't stop the obvious global warming activism from continuing in this piece:
While the filmmakers conducted much of their fieldwork with Inuit seal and walrus hunters, no humans are shown in the film, and the main antagonist confronting the bears and walruses is climate change.
Mr. Ravetch said he has seen Arctic conditions shift starkly since 1990, when he and Ms. Robertson started filming in the far north. Around Baffin Island in northern Canada, he said, where thick ice was the norm in springtime years ago, seas are often a dangerous slushy mess.
In one scene a mother bear and cubs are seen tentatively crossing such disintegrated ice, which gives like a waterbed underfoot.
"We've seen these areas getting warmer to the point where this last year by April it had been raining for three months," Mr. Ravetch said.
Another reason for having named, if composite, animal characters, Ms. Robertson said, was "to give climate change a face."
"Climate change is a bunch of statistics for many people," Ms. Robertson said. "But regionally climate change is affecting not only people but animals. We wanted to really settle in on the moments and the decisions and reactions of animals when they are faced in regional areas with climate change."
Yes, I'm sure you did, just as the folks at the Times must have felt that one glowing review concerning this film wasn't enough, as just three days later, an article entitled "A Lesson in Global Warming From Two Cold, Cute Critters" was published (emphasis added):
Displaying more corn than is usually found at the North Pole, "Arctic Tale" documents the travails of a polar bear cub and a walrus pup as they struggle toward adulthood on diminishing quantities of ice.
Cute of face and name, fuzzy Nanu and sleek Seela (played by a variety of animals at different stages of life) dodge predators and heed their mommies while the filmmakers, Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson, spin a global-warming-for-tykes theme around their endangered bodies. This being an American family movie, the pop songs and unbridled flatulence are givens.
Assembled from more than 800 hours of film shot at the Arctic Circle over the last 15 years, this National Geographic production (written in part by Al Gore's daughter Kristin) uses its narrative artifice to serve the greater good.
No global warming activism here.
For a little balance, humor, and some much-needed sanity, the reader might peruse the New York Post's review of this film also published Wednesday (emphasis added):
THE North Pole adventure "Arctic Tale" stars a creature who, despite severely inhospitable conditions and agonizing defeats, never quite becomes extinct, thanks to a thick, 2- to 4-inch layer of blubber.
But the script, narrated by Queen Latifah, is so embarrassingly dorky (it was co-written by Kristin Gore) that it's like Fred Rogers gone hip-hop.
The film warns that the animals are at dire risk because of the shrinking ice cap, but the message is stamped in with editorializing: When a polar bear tries to find a hunk of ice to stand on, Latifah says, "This is not like any winter mother bear has seen before." (Really? In what interview did she tell you that?)
Another issue the two Times reviews conveniently ignored:
And out of nowhere comes a chilling arctic blast of eco-feminism: The heroes of the film are two daughters, their mothers and a protective walrus called "Auntie."
Polar bear twins, a female and a male, are referred to throughout by the following names: "Nanu" and "her brother."
The males in the film are either chided for being incompetent - a boy bear "lacks focus," says Latifah, sounding like a schoolteacher about to zap the kid with Ritalin - or shown as mean and greedy.
Every time a male polar bear tries to get an honest meal, or even to protect the carcass he just killed from scavengers, Hitchcockian scare music plays and Latifah speaks sternly: "The male is not in the habit of sharing and could easily kill her." (Why should he share? This is the wilderness, not a Montessori school.)
When the females go looking for fellow creatures to kill, bright music plays and the narrator cheers them on.
When male walruses murmur their mating calls, Latifah sniffs that the females don't need them: "The ladies have better things to do with their time." Better things than propagating the species? Are they busy watching "The View"?
Finally, Post writer Kyle Smith deliciously concluded:
Someday I'll be showing my kids this film as a teaching aid, too, but I'll use it to point out the dangers posed by nature's most terrifying animals: Democrats.
I'm verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.