If, as Mary Poppins sang, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, does humor make the puncturing of prevarication go down in an equally delightful way?
That's the hope of the makers of Climate Hustle, a documentary produced by the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and initially presented as a one-night cinematic event distributed by the same company responsible for getting the Mystery Science Theater 3000-related RiffTrax crew's lambasting bad movies and other events into many of the same movie houses. It appears that it's the first of what looks to be a series of two features about different aspects of the controversies surrounding global warming, climate change, climate weirding-yes, weirding!-or whatever the appellation du jour is for purportedly seismic, deleterious effects of humankind on the weather. Some of a scientific mindset call it anthropogenic global warming (AGW). My guess is that these features will, in time, be distributed via home video platforms, with the theatrical presentations affording an opportunity to raise money toward that end. If the nearly full house at the screen where I saw Climate Hustle is at all indicative, CFACT should have raised a goodly sum in early May to get their message out all the farther.
Much as Marc Morano, head of the Climate Depot section of CFACT's website, and his accomplices intend to inject humor into confronting what has become a movement of such totalitarian staunchness that most of its proponents aren't inclined to debate the, ahem, science they use to draw their conclusions, its own proponents provide plenty of their own inadvertent yuks.
The specter of AGW hysteria's father figure, Al Gore, seen in Hustle, via easily refutable clips from his ridiculously Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth, is laughable enough in his haughty hubris and the carnival barker/televangelist fervor he injects into his Phineas J. Whoope*-esque, Jumbotron-abetted spiel; his Inconvenient clips are contrasted with statements from actual scientists who point to Gore's cherry-picking of environmental factors to buoy dubious surmising, some of which has proven false on its face in the decade since Gore's docu-hoax** got released to widespread, if naive and/or agenda-driven, acclaim.
Others speaking under the aegis of scientific respectability get in a share of laughable assumptions and assertions as well. An especially hilarious instance toward the end of Hustle features an ironically tall Asian gentleman proposing engineering humans to be shorter in order for them to make smaller carbon footprints. And though he's dead serious in his of ACW as civilization's threat to beat all, geoscientist Michael Oppenheimer, with his bushy mustache and professorial eyeglasses, provides an an amusing foil to Morano's amiably confrontational questioning. While his background is in investigative journalism, the host's East Coast accent and ease with mugging at the camera could have him easily mistaken for a stand-up comic out on a lark. Shots of honest-to-goodness earth worshipers, looking like they're performing yoga in wilderness during some protest or another, on one hand amusing, yet on another saddening for its participants' state of spiritual deception.
More purposeful uses of humor, such as the use of CGI graphic to depict a crepitating cow and the three-card Monte player used to introduce the concept of the "hustle" in so far as climate is concerned, possess the patina of Velveeta much of the cinematic humor coming from the sociopolitical right. but is is a tasty enough cheesiness to make a serious message go down without the sort of harangue and invective Gore and his cohort specialize in dispensing.
There's a question as to whether Hustle is strictly cinematic as well. It looks to have been shot on a medium that's not exactly celluloid; this may be a function of CFACT's budgetary limitations, but if it weren't for a good cause for such a useful presentation, the idea of paying $4.75 more for a ticket to something without the production values of the latest Captain America epic, much less an art house flick, may have seemed like a bit much. In CFACT's defense, some of that upcharge doubtless has to do with the cost of the satellite feed distributor Fanthom Events uses to get the show into multiple locations simultaneously.
A preview of the series' next installment indicates that it will cover the economic and political agendas and global cost, especially to the poor, of the ACW doxy. Previewing the sequel were shots of Gore speaking forthrightly of his pet cause's means as an end to global wealth redistribution and commentary from The Cornwall Alliance's E. Calvin Beisner*** regarding the unfairly increased energy costs to people living in poverty due to environmentalists' meddling.
Following Hustle proper was a prerecorded discussion of ACW, and especially the silencing of those not in its supposed consensus, hosted by Media Research Center's Brent Bozell and featuring former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Morano and Delaware climatologist David Legates. Self-proclaimed science guy Bill Nye makes appearances, too, thanks to a separate interview with Morano, though the man with the nifty bow tie collection seems less than supportive of the spirit of open inquiry germane to his discipline when it comes to climate studies. Pretty compelling stuff in itself, and here's hoping it will be included in whatever home video formats will follow.
-Jamie Lee Rake
*-Not the only one who thought of Tennessee Tuxedo and Chumley the Walrus' scientist friend with the 3D Blackboard while watching Gore inveigle away in Truth, am I?
**-The U.K,'s government can take justified dunning for any number of reasons, but give the Brit pols credit for keeping Truth out of public schools on account of its scientific dubiousness;such was reported in Hustle's worthwhile 2009 predecessor and worthy companion piece, Ann and Phelim McAleer's Not Evil Just Wrong.
***-The Cornwall Alliance may be the premiere resource for scientifically and biblically sound information on matters related to climate, environment and ecology. Beisner is a most articulate spokesman for the cause. His organization's Resisting The Green Dragon DVD series of 12 lectures related to AGW by a variety of speakers, including Legates, is almost like a grad school level course in the topic.