Wednesday, 27 November 2013

5 Green Films That Undermine Their Own Message

The environment is important kids, we need it t live and junk. Film makers for the last couple of decades have been super keen to teach kids the importance of looking after the environment, apparently missing the fact that all their children are going to hear is “Because Mummy and Daddy drive cars, you and all the whales are going to die!”

What’s worse however, is that most of these films, one way or another, end up undermining the very message they’re trying to spread.


Photo Credit: Ben K Adams via Compfight cc

This is my personal favourite on this list, mainly because, like most Pixar films, I can’t sit through it without bursting into tears like some sort of baby. The film opens on possibly one of the most kid friendly apocalypses you can imagine. No seas of acid, no global warming, no meteorites or super strong rabies variants. Nope, this is the trashpocalypse. The Earth came to a halt because there was too much littering.

This is fine if you’re a kid, as “not littering” is something you can realistically contribute to, unlike global warming, which you just have to watch in despair as your mum drives you to school in a 4x4.

The Day After Tomorrow

This film is basically Independence Day but with the gigantic alien spaceships being replaced with really bad weather. At the start we see the noble Dennis Quaid scientist desperately trying to persuade the evil politicians to sign Kyoto and not kill us all. They don’t and we all die.

Unfortunately, any moral you might have gleaned from this film is spoiled by the fact that the science is terrible. There are scenes where see people literally run away from the cold and escape from it by shutting a door just in time. In one seen we see a cold breeze literally freeze an American flag in mid flight, ignoring the fact that to do that the flag would have to be so damp it would be unable to fly anyway.

Fern Gulley: The Last Rainforest

Not to be confused with Gurn Fully, the tale of a man who pulls funny faces, then is forced to find his way to the home of the wind gods with his tongue hanging out after his face gets stuck that way. Also not to be confused with the film Avatar, which ripped this film off so hard it really is amazing that the Robin Williams bat didn’t sue James Cameron.

The message of the film amounts to “cutting down the Rainforest is bad”. The message stumbles a little bit though, since it turns out the creatures of the rainforest have the power to reduce a human being to the size of an insect at will.

Faced with power like that, you can forget chopping down the rainforest. We should nuke it from orbit just to be sure.

Free Willy

Free Willy is a touching story about the importance of looking after wild life and protecting the world around us. It shows us that keeping a whale in captivity is wrong and that it should be released into the wild where it can run (or swim) free.

Of course, this is slightly undermined in two ways. Firstly, not a single kid saw that film and came away not wanting their very own trained killer whale. Two, Willy, with his damaged dorsal fin and psychological damage from years in captivity, would almost certainly die when he reached the ocean.

The Simpsons Movie

Back when it was good the Simpsons often dealt with environmental themes, and continued to do so long after the show stopped ever being funny. The cartoon saw a brief return to form for The Simpsons Movie, where the town of Springfield’s constant pollution lead to the evil, maniacal head of the EPA isolating the entire town under a glass dome in a way that bore no resemblance to the Stephen King book “The Dome” that came out shortly afterwards.

We see that our careless, selfish attitude to the environment utterly destroys it, hence the giant glass dome. Except that at the end of the film the dome is destroyed and everything goes exactly back to normal. Like, exactly back to normal. Nothing is done about the deadly nuclear power plant or the heaps of toxic waste being dumped in the lake. It’s forgotten about.