Interstellar and the Climate-Culture War

Although I am a sucker for high concept sci-fi movies (I actually made my mother take me to see 2001: A Space Odyssey at Grauman’s Chinese Theater the Cinerama* in Hollywood when I was just 10 years old—I think I understood it better then than I do now), I haven’t seen Interstellar yet, so there won’t be any spoilers in this post. Instead, I’m spoiling for a fight about how the climatistas are reacting to it—which is badly in some cases.

As John Podhoretz points out in his mostly approving review in the Weekly Standard, climate change is conspicuously missing as the proximate cause of the Earth’s difficulties that prompt the film’s hero to venture out for other planets. Moreover, JPod thinks the film’s creator, Christopher Nolan, is a closet conservative:

[F]or those of us sunk deep into the roots of American conservatism, the signs are all there: the crunchy-granola teacher, the politically doctored textbooks, the anti-American theory, even Cooper’s quietly enraged and knowing response. And what the signs say is this: Christopher Nolan reads The Weekly Standard. . .

And the name of the movie’s villain is also the name of Mark Steyn’s antagonist in a libel-and-slander war over climate change.

That might be a coincidence, but I just don’t know. It is notable that the terms “global warming” and “climate change” are not used to describe the environmental depredation of the Earth—notable because that would be the easiest cultural shorthand for Nolan to use. It feels like there’s a reason for their absence.

According to the New York Post’s Kyle Smith: “Interstellar is a vision of American guts and greatness and ingenuity that would have made John Wayne smile. Using technology, Nolan asserts, man can and should bend the environment to his will, not serve it. No matter what challenges we may face, Cooper states, in a stirring line that serves as the film’s epigraph, “We’ll find a way. We always have.” What Cooper means is entrepreneurship, invention, exploration—not regulation, restriction and abnegation.”

For Noah Gittell over at The Atlantic, this is precisely the problem with Interstellar:

But no matter how you feel about Interstellar as a piece of entertainment, one thing should be agreed upon: As a climate-change parable, it fails. . . For those who care about climate change, the film feels like a missed opportunity.

And for those who don’t—they’re probably saying “about darn time.”

Now why should Nolan have felt duty-bound to genuflect to the climatistas? Because “Hollywood has yet to adequately address the issue of climate change. . .   Why does Hollywood keep getting the environment wrong?”

Really? Did Gittell somehow miss The American President, Hollywood’s how-to wet dream for how Bill Clinton should have governed, featuring this 20-second rant from Annette Benning?**

Or how about The Day After Tomorrow, which was really just a remake of The Day After, only with global thermageddon replacing global nuclear Armageddon.  Here’s the trailer, in case you’ve forgotten:

**Come to think of it, if Bill Clinton had had Annette Benning around instead of Hillary, maybe he would be been further to the left.  I always liked the premise of The American President that Hillary was gone from the world somehow.

* A reader corrects my faulty memory: 2001 played at the Cinerama—not Grauman’s Chinese.  Several years later, when 2001 came back for a late night run at the newer Cinerama Dome, I dragged several of my high school pals to see it.  They never forgave me.

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