"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The truth about "fiction"

A semi-update to the previous post

A lot has been made of the "implausibility" of the events in the new film "The Day After Tomorrow." We'll have to wait and see if the negative reviews achieve their intended effect, but empirical evidence shows that both the reviews and the movie are affecting some people.

While I was out doing some shopping Tuesday evening, I overheard part of a conversation that went something like this:
A: I just saw "The Day After Tomorrow."
B: You did? I heard that a lot of people have already gone to see it.
A: You have to keep in mind that it's science-fiction.
Can you say, "Hook, line, and sinker"?

There's more than one kind of fiction
A square is always a rectangle, but a rectangle isn't necessarily a square. Wrap that concept securely around your brain, and you'll be less likely to get confused by the remainder of this post.

Just what is "fiction" anyway? While the term sometimes refers to outright lies, the term is more frequently used in reference to stories (in the literary sense) about things which are plausible and realistic but not necessarily based on factual occurrences. Literary fiction often speaks truth about human nature and relationships. Good fiction can teach us more about truth than any so-called "reality show" ever could.

This quote says a lot about the subject at hand:
A lie hides the truth. A story tries to find it.
- Paula Fox, A Servant's Tale
When Michael Moore referred to the "fictitious president" in his acceptance speech after receiving the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film, he was clearly talking about the multitude of lies descending upon us from Washington, D.C. like hordes of locusts in the guise of the truth. No matter what you think of the outcome of the 2000 U.S. presidential election, it can only be described as dubious.

We saw a purging of the voter rolls (carried out by Florida's then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris), a recount (demanded by Republicans), a cessation of the recount (pressed by Republican rioters-for-rent), and an election decision made by the (mostly Republican-appointed) Supreme Court.

Don't ya just love "democracy" in action? (Hence the name of this blog.)

The future is now
"The Day After Tomorrow" is categorized by the Internet Movie Database in this manner (links in original):
Genre: Action / Drama / Sci-Fi / Thriller (more)
Science-fiction is defined on Dictionary.com as:
A literary or cinematic genre in which fantasy, typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets, forms part of the plot or background.
"The Day After Tomorrow" fits a couple of those elements precisely: speculative scientific discoveries and environmental changes. But one particular scene in the film reveals human nature via dramatic action.

I'm referring to the section of the film in which a huge wave hits New York City. People are running everywhere. The water is already high enough to cover the bumpers of all the cars, and traffic is at a standstill. Everyone is blowing their horns. Simply put, it's pure chaos.

The action in the scene (described here minus some key details so as to avoid "spoilers") shows us that in times of crisis, some people will use their money in an attempt to buy their safety, others -- blissfully ignorant of the danger at their backs -- will gladly take that money, and yet others -- in spite of their own injuries -- will stop and help those in need. In a good story, you can guess which of these characters will survive.

How about some more of that type of "fiction" that just plain lies through its teeth? George W. Bush continues repeating to this day that "the world is safer" because of his so-called "war on terror."

That's pure and simple up-is-downism!

In the fiction of the Bush "presidency," which is much stranger than the literary variety, the only truth is the knowledge that we have seen lies which resulted in something much worse than a stained dress or a broken family. We have seen true evil on American soil.

Pentagon also "fooled" by "rhetoric" of "The Day After Tomorrow"
Yeah, yeah, it's kind of old news, but I'd bet many people have already forgotten about this one:
Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

· Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war
· Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years
· Threat to the world is greater than terrorism

Mark Townsend and Paul Harris in New York
Sunday February 22, 2004
The Observer

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.. [sic]

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'

The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority. [Emphasis mine]
Are there any more questions about why so many negative reviews have been written about "The Day After Tomorrow"? If so, go see it for yourself -- without any restrictions on "how you should think about it."

Related links:
* Read more about the Pentagon's report on global warming and download a copy here.
* The Supreme Court's December 9, 2000 "stay" stopping the Florida recount [Link is to an Adobe Acrobat Reader file, despite the ".fdf" extension]
* Greg Palast's report, "The Theft of the Presidency," with links to video files
* Salon.com's "Everything you need to know about the Florida recount"
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