Friday, October 16, 2009

Energy policies

While perusing the DVD shelves at a local video store the other day, WB glanced at a disposable fin du monde movie about the death of all humankind. The title was obvious and instantly forgettable, but the tagline stuck: Extinction is inevitable.

These days, with the History Channel stuck in a one-note chant of doom and disaster, online discussion boards filled with cynical optimism that an extinction-level event will happen sooner rather than later, and hordes of jaded 14-year-olds announcing to parents and teachers that they're looking forward to the world's ending, one question needs to be asked:

What the hell is wrong with everyone?

Tell someone that their car will be stolen, and they'll park under a light and lock the doors. Tell them that their house will burn down, and they'll install alarms and replace frayed wiring. Tell them their hard drive will crash, and they'll run a backup. But tell them that wildlife are going extinct at an alarming rate, water supplies are drying up, and weather patterns have gone wonky, and they'll invest billions of dollars in tacky straight-to-DVD movies chronicling the end of days, TV shows focused on computer-animated disaster footage and crumbled civilization, and stronger antidepressants to cope with it all.

Even Discovery's Animal Planet tells kids that "extinction is inevitable," while little stories saying the exact opposite are tucked away on niche publications (our apologies to Wired for labeling it that way). Not to be too obvious, but what if all the money going into ad campaigns for shows like After People were redirected to publicizing something like How To Bring The Bees Back? What if the DVD shelves were filled with titles like Preventing Overfishing? What if Discovery and History invested millions not into CGI disaster footage, but into informative programming that told kids how species can be protected rather than wiped out? What if all the money Sony has put into its upcoming disaster movie, 2012, had been put into public service announcements informing the public that the whole 2012 "the end" scenario is utter bullshit?

You know the answer. And it's not pleasant. At heart, humankind prefers suicide over redemption, darkness to light, ignorance over intellect. Becoming informed is boring. Becoming jaded and hopeless is entertaining. Doom sells.

WB would fall into the same trap if we said that nothing will ever change, and that the masses are marching happily off the cliff, having been entertained to death by a pop culture obsessed with death and destruction. But it doesn't have to go that way. Investing the same energy into fighting disaster as goes into celebrating it would be all it takes to start backing away from that dark precipice.


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