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Researchers want Hollywood films to reflect climate change crisis

Researchers want Hollywood films to reflect climate change crisis

 


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) Aquaman might not mind if the oceans rise, but moviegoers might.

That's one of the takeaways from a new study by researchers aimed at determining whether today's Hollywood blockbusters are reflection of the current climate crisis. The vast majority of films failed the climate reality check proposed by the authors, who studied 250 films from 2013 to 2022.

The test is simple: the authors sought to see if a film presented a story in which climate change exists and if a character knows it. One film that passed the test was 2017 superhero film Justice League, ” in which Jason Momoa's Aquaman character says: Hey, I don't mind if the oceans rise to Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne.

But most films failed in less than 10% of the 250 films selected, and climate change was mentioned in two or more scenes in less than 4% of films. This is disconnected from movie audiences who want to see their reality reflected on screen, said Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, an English professor at Colby College and the study's lead researcher.

The bottom line is simply that the vast majority of films, popular films produced in the last decade in the United States, do not depict the world as it is, Schneider-Mayerson said. They depict a world that is now history or an imaginary world in which climate change is not happening.

Maines Colby College Researchers published the study in April with Good Energy, an environmental consulting firm based in Los Angeles. The results have been peer-reviewed and the authors are seeking publication in scientific journals. Researchers view the test as a way for viewers, writers and filmmakers to evaluate the depiction of climate change on screen.

AP correspondent Margie Szaroleta reports a study that finds few Hollywood films incorporate climate change into their plots.

Some results were surprising. Films that, on the surface, appear to have little connection to climate or the environment have passed the test. Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach's moving 2019 drama about the collapse of a relationship, passed the test in part because Adam Driver's character is portrayed as energy-conscious, Schneider-Mayerson said.

Others to pass the test were 2022 thriller Glass Onion and 2019 folk horror film Midsommar. Some, more explicitly linked to climate change, such as the 2021 satire Dont Look Up, have also been adopted. But that's not the case for San Andreas, a 2015 film about a West Coast earthquake, and The Meg, a 2018 action film set in the ocean.

The authors narrowed the selection of films by excluding films that were not set on Earth or set before 2006 or after 2100. They found that streaming services had a higher percentage of films that included climate change than did streaming services. large studios.

The study is useful for marketing, information and data accumulation purposes, said Harry Winer, director of sustainability at the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at the Tisch School of the Arts. New York University. Winer, who was not involved in the study, said it could also serve as an incentive to connect audiences to climate stories.

The public will be more willing to hear a dialogue about what's right and what's wrong, Winer said. It's a conversation starter.

The study's authors said they view the climate reality check as a kind of Bechdel-Wallace test for climate change. Alison Bechdel, a cartoonist, is credited with popularizing this test in the 1980s by incorporating her friend Liz Wallace's test on gender representation in cinema into a comic strip. The test asks if a film includes at least two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man.

Bechdel herself praised the study's climate test, which she described as long overdue. in a social media post during this year's Oscar season. Bechdel said in an email to The Associated Press that, for a film set in the present, ignoring this existential threat simply no longer makes sense in the age of climate change.

I worry that the writers are doing it in a repetitive way, which could be counterproductive, just like strong female characters are, Bechdel said. But injecting an awareness of our community plight into the stories we ingest seems obvious.

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