NY Times Advises Filmmakers Sell Climate Change with Humor

The New York Times has a tip for filmmakers who want to “galvanize” viewers about the threat of climate change.

Be funny.

Perhaps they had just watched the incomparable Donald O’Connor sing, “Make ‘Em Laugh.”

Times culture reporter Melena Ryzik wrote on Oct. 3, that “capturing the real global threat of climate change is far harder than filming any spaceship landing. Just ask Darren Aronofsky, whose recent thriller, ‘Mother!,’ buried his climate-change message in allegory.”

The article also lamented the challenge of getting climate change films made, their lack of sexiness, and the problem of apocalyptic messaging and “dystopian framing” because it “backfires.” She noted the poor box office performance of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power in August, but said “the right message doesn’t help if nobody catches it.”

Ryzik quoted directors including Fisher Stevens who warned,” It’s going to turn people off if it’s doom and gloom” and “Although it’s not easy to do, when you’re talking about climate change, as you can see with what’s happening now [referring to the recent hurricanes] it’s becoming apocalyptic.”

She didn’t challenge his assertion as some scientists have.

One of the experts said filmmakers haven’t really tried to use humor to reach viewers and pointed to an upcoming attempt to do so in the film Downsizing, in which shrinking people to five inches tall is seen as a solution to old liberal fears of overpopulation.

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New York Times
Julia A. Seymour's picture