On Friday, I almost bought teal converse sneakers, just for the fun of it. I know people who have lots of converse sneakers in lots of colors. Why not be one of them? But I ended up putting the shoes back and I am so glad I did, because on Saturday, I decided to be hip and politically correct and invite my friend and roommate to see The Age of Stupid at MoMA, which, I deduced from a brief scanning of MoMA’s listing, was about global warming.
Cool, I thought. It’d be fun to tell everyone that I’m so environmentally careful that I see movies about global warming. After giving away my fake engagement ring on Halloween to some guy dressed as Run DMC, I’m no longer able to pretend to be married, so I figured appearing more eco-friendly would a good way to fit in in Park Slope for the time being.
Little did I know, seeing The Age of Stupid would not just make me feel like I didn’t belong in Park Slope, but it made me feel like I don’t belong on the planet. The premise of the film is that by ignoring climate change now, we’re basically guaranteeing that the whole planet will be destroyed, and we’ll all be dead by 2055. I may not be good at math, but I know that is soon. I will be 81, if I don’t die in one of the hypothetical hurricanes or food riots that occur in the years before.
The movie is part documentary, part cartoon, and part fiction. Pete Postlethwaite plays an archivist who has collected specimens of planet earth as we know it in a Noah’s Arc sort of way, and uses an iphone-like computer to make a documentary about how we knew better in 2008 but were too dumb to do anything about it.
The documentary footage is real, and it is interspersed with cartoons demonstrating how gluttonous Americans are. Postlethwaite also offers commentary, while scrolling ferociously and tapping his screen to make selections. He has the iphone mannerisms down to a pat (which scares me, I don’t know why.)
The documentary sections feature: “Fernand Pareau, 82-year old French mountain guide, Jeh Wadia, starting a low-cost airline in India , Alvin DuVernay, Shell oil man who rescued 100 people after Hurricane Katrina , Layefa Malemi, living in Shell’s most profitable oil region in Nigeria, Jamila and Adnan Bayyoud, two Iraqi refugee kids trying to find their brother, Piers Guy, a windfarm developer fighting the anti windfarm lobby in England.” (see full synopsis.)
They are all trying to better the world in some way, but they are all either misguided or doomed to fail or both. The point of the movie is to convince us that we know how to fix global warming, but are committing suicide by ignoring it and doing nothing. I’m sure the point of the movie was to inspire action, but it inspired a total panic attack. Jamila and Adnan Bayyoud note that while they wear shoes until they fall apart, Americans throw away shoes the minute something breaks. It literally made me want to punch anyone I knew who buys shoes for fun. (file under: my career as a yoga teacher is as doomed as the o-zone layer.)
The movie does a good job of showing us how stupid we are, but less of a good job demonstrating how we can help it. Rather, the world of the film is filled with really stupid people. And it made me think that I knew a lot of stupid people too. (I also felt physically violent towards anyone I knew who had ever suggested it was a good idea to take a cab.)
That said, I do recommend checking out the site, seeing the movie if you can and joining the movement, “Not Stupid.” On the site, you can e-mail politicians and learn to cut your emissions by 10 percent. You can learn more about the conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 that might help to set policy that will reverse the effects of global warming.
I joined, and hope to convert my hopelessness into action, but unfortunately, what I drew from the film is that humans are sort of biologically wired to consume resources until they’re gone. Postlethwaite reflects that maybe we’re committing suicide because we don’t think we’re worth saving, but I think maybe we’re just driven by the laws of entropy. Maybe we’re doomed by genetics to feverishly use everything until it’s gone. If you agree, I encourage you not only join the Not Stupid campaign but also to join my movement, which involves pledging to never have children, throwing teal converse sneakers at shoppers in SoHo and then moving a farm with the next person I find who I can stand for more than an hour.