So many movies and show seem hopelessly quaint and naïve at this point in history. I happen to have the end of The Day After Tomorrow on at the moment, you know, the disaster movie in which nature throws some impressive blizzard-canes at us. At the end the president, who had been a climate skeptic, gives this contrite speech to the people in which he admits that he was wrong, that it’s a new and changed reality, and that now we have to roll up our sleeves and deal with the real problems of the world.
I just think it is adorable that we used to think like that. You know, people hold crazy ideas, and then reality asserts itself, they see the error of their ways, and everyone becomes unified behind a new war effort or national project or whatever.
What will actually happen is that no matter what gets thrown at us, within a news cycle or so there will be so many competing explanations and accounts, each of them bending reality into the shape that the narrator wants it, that no unity will be possible. No one will admit anything, no one will see the error of any past action or belief.
Movies have always been fantasies about the world we would like or the one we fear, rather than the one that actually exists. So the real question is, if it is true that there’s nothing that will bring anyone up short to realize that what they believed wasn’t true, how does anyone move forward short of violence?
I overstate the case, of course. Not everyone is completely immune to the corrective effects of reality. We all hope that the fringe beliefs go back to being on the fringe. But I’m torn between thinking that movies which offer that kind of unifying ending are hope for the future, or the opiate of the masses. I’m sure all this will be completely clear in retrospect, for historians. Right now, not so much.
Merry Christmas all, or whatever holiday gives you hope.