How the Entertainment Industry Is Bringing Climate Change Into the Mainstream

Mad Max and Climate Change

Jasin Boland/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP

From your neighborhood theater to your smartphone, climate change is starting to appear on screens of all sizes. The recent Mad Max blockbuster had a climate message, and the final film of the glamorous Cannes film festival was a climate change documentary. The HBO fantasy-drama Game of Thrones may well be a fable about climate change. And the makers of the addictive smartphone game Angry Birds plan to incorporate a climate change twist to raise awareness.
In order to reach a broader audience of Americans, the climate message has to go mainstream – and weaving it into popular culture can help take it beyond a handful of concerned citizens. Our research has found storytelling to be an effective way to make climate change seem real and personal. If the story is one people are lining up to hear, all the better. As this article in Guardian Sustainable Business points out, integrating the message into the plot of a film or TV series can help educate the audience not only about climate impacts, but also about solutions and opportunities.

What do Angry Birds and Mad Max Have in Common? A Climate Change Message.

By Adam Corner, contributor to Guardian Sustainable Business
Climate messages are finding their way into Hollywood blockbusters and addictive games. Is popular culture embracing the reality of climate change?
In any given 24-hour period, the average urban commuter is subjected to hundreds of corporate advertisements. By contrast, it’s easy to make it through the day without hearing a mention of climate change. For all intents and purposes it is invisible in our daily lives, and this invisibility goes a long way towards explaining why the allegedly “defining” challenge of the 21st century barely registers on barometers of popular culture.
Whether it’s the addictive melodrama of long-running TV soap-operas, the swirling churn of “trending” topics on social media, or the glamorous high-definition version of reality refracted to us through the lens of Hollywood cameras, climate change is missing in action.
It was a surprise, then, to find such a high level of chatter about climate change at the glitzy Cannes film festival (not famed for grappling with the world’s biggest questions). The festival concluded with Ice & Sky, a sombre take on the work of the French scientist Claude Lorius, documenting the destruction of Antarctic glaciers. Charlize Theron, discussing the forthcoming remake of dystopian classic Mad Max, commented: “What makes [the film] even scarier is that it is something that is not far off if we don’t pull it together.”
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