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Climate change, conspicuously absent from film and television fiction

2022-11-30T10:34:28.193Z

Researchers at the University of Southern California found that of 37,453 scenarios analyzed, only 0.6% specifically mentioned "climate change".



Whether on TV or in the cinema, fictions have shown their power to change minds in many areas.

But relatively little when it comes to climate change.

Of a total of 37,453 film and TV scripts analyzed by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), only 1,046 (or 2.8%) included words relating to the climate... and only 0.6% specifically mentioned "

climate change

".


The vast majority of movies and shows that we watch take place in a parallel reality, where climate change does not exist, which maintains an illusion for the spectators

“, analyzes Anna Jane Joyner, the founder of Good Energy, specializing in advising screenwriters on the issue of climate.

Fiction has, however, been a powerful lever for breaking down taboos and changing mentalities, for example on questions of homosexuality and gender.

Read alsoFaced with global warming, Hollywood is trying to green its red carpets

"

Authors who care about climate change may think the public won't be sensitive to it, but that's not true

," adds Erica Rosenthal of the University of Southern California.

This academic has studied in her work how viewers form "

parasocial

" relationships with on-screen characters, which sensitize them to new ideas and new people, and can change behaviors, on immigration or l framing of weapons for example.

Many people are deeply worried about climate change, but hardly talk about it

,” adds Anna Jane Joyner.

"

Even if it's just mentioned in passing on a show we love, subconsciously it validates the fact that this concern is normal

”, a prerequisite for the desire to act.

A selection dedicated to ecology at Cannes in 2021

But beware of good intentions that can be counterproductive

,” explains the founder of Good Energy.

With two main pitfalls: the apocalyptic vision, which can demotivate, and the moralizing characters, who harass others to give up their big car or their plastic straw.

"

Nobody likes being reprimanded

," says Anna Jane Joyner.

Simple gestures can be more helpful: characters expressing concern for the climate, taking public transport, or not wasting food.

We see lots of stories about extreme weather events, but they're rarely linked to climate change, which would be pretty easy to do

,” comments Erica Rosenthal.

Few films on the subject have left their mark, except perhaps

The Day After

, Roland Emmerich's blockbuster released almost twenty years ago.

In 2021, the Cannes Film Festival devoted a section of its selection to films devoted to ecology, but the experience was not renewed.

In France, "

the tradition is rather that of a psychological cinema, rather bourgeois (with) a more distant relationship to nature

", explains Véronique Le Bris, a cinema specialist who has just published a guide to the

100 great films good for planet

.

The Hollywood industry has long explored, since the first westerns, the relationship between humanity and nature.

In the beginning, the Western is all about conquering territory.

But very quickly, there is the idea that the domestication of nature does not necessarily mean destroying it

”, specifies Véronique Le Bris.

The fear of nuclear weapons began a change in approach, and as early as 1958 director Nicholas Ray took up the issue of saving biodiversity in

The Forbidden Forest

, whose distant successors range from

Erin Brokovitch

(2000) to

Don't Look Up

(2021) to

Wall-E

(2008).

Source: lefigaro

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