Academic journal article CineAction

"What You See Is Happening Right Now." Thermageddon and a Search for Tomorrow

Academic journal article CineAction

"What You See Is Happening Right Now." Thermageddon and a Search for Tomorrow

Article excerpt

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he
didn't exist."
--Roger "Verbal" Kint, The Usual Suspects

The question hangs over anyone concerned with the broad malaise of contemporary society: How does one fight back against an entity able to turn revolution on its head? Resistance is not futile, but it must be complex and overly conscientious. Care must be taken with regards to the ways that those shaping public discourse and popular culture co-opt said resistance and sap away its meaning. In the case of full-blown hegemony the power structure even uses the tomes of resistance for its own benefit. Failure to heed the hegemonic forces that succeed in shaping our everyday lives can result in acts of revolt that not only fall upon deaf ears but also get transmogrified into something that in the end further serves the goals of those in power, blinding others to their very existence.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Conceived and championed by deeply integrated members of the rich ruling class, Hollywood blockbuster films often serve as case studies for hegemony. Virtually any dissident issue these films purport to address is turned against itself to the extent that said issue is softened and made meaningless for the viewer. Viewers leave feeling as though the issue at hand is not of great consequence, reminding us of the Devil's greatest trick. This phenomenon is itself of high importance. More than perhaps any other popular culture artefacts, films--especially the blockbusters, and the socialites who spawn them--stand as either highly sanguine or deeply lobotomizing, depending on the film. Within Hollywood the latter wins out ever increasingly. As privileged members of such an auspicious group, the task ahead of filmmakers like Roland Emmerich, the director of The Day After Tomorrow (2004) is to maintain a pathological machine designed to articulate and uphold social conventions, in no small part by debasing, trivializing, depoliticizing or exaggerating potentially subversive subject matter. The films which arise from this process do so under the guise of what is all too sheepishly called art (with all its assertive and perhaps anaesthetizing characteristics), further complicating the relationship between blockbuster films and the elite class which they help to keep safely rich, and richly safe.

The Day After Tomorrow stands as an exemplar of the Hollywood blockbuster's hegemonic force. Emmerich's film shows that the breadth of Hollywood hegemony includes the fight against global warming. The film examines several groups of Americans (and one trio of Irishmen) as the world is ambushed by the environmental outcome of global warming--an outcome which any self-respecting and conscientious climatologist fears is looming on our proverbial horizon. The global crisis takes place at a fantastically accelerated rate during the film, surely killing millions of inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere as tidal waves, floods, multiple tornados, killer hail and other calamitous climate incidents leave the survivors struggling against the impending lethally cold weather that sweeps in. The overarching storm is the event that ushers in a new Ice Age. Though the events that shape thermageddon--a term coined by environmental activist and inaugural chairman of Greenpeace Robert Hunter which indicates both the role of global warming within current environmental trends and the impending severity of it should humanity do nothing to lessen our role in it--happen within a time span of several days in Fox studios' blockbuster, the science behind how it comes about does, for the better part, adhere to prevailing scientific theories about potential global warming effects. (1) As an isolated narrative, The Day After Tomorrow comes off as emotional, traumatic, and even thought-provoking about the severity of global-warming. Watching the film, however, is another story. Though the film concerns an impending crisis for Americans and (as an afterthought) the world which begs thought, discussion and action, it is all too easy to forget--especially while viewing it--that The Day After Tomorrow is a film about global warming. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.