What would you get if you crossed This Is Spinal Tap with An Inconvenient Truth? The answer is Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy, which will premier later this week at the Outfest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival of Los Angeles. Doesn’t that just sound like a place I’d fit in? (The link takes to you to trailer, where you get about a half-second glimpse of me from last summer before I dropped 40 lbs. and sold my calorie offsets to Al Gore.)
The filmmaker and "star" of this "mockumentary," Randy Olson, is a former marine biologist who gave it up to go to film school and make films like this. Now there are several ways to go in commenting on this film. The hard core greenies won’t like it because it has fun with this dreary subject, and you’re not supposed to joke about global warming, which, I learned this morning, is even going to lead to more kidney stones! The global warming fanatics remind me of the old joke about how many feminists it takes to change a light bulb. Answer: "That’s not funny!" No doubt Olson will hear from the Green Commissars that he shouldn’t have given the likes of me and Pat Michaels one second of screen time. The film’s sendup of Hollywood superficiality will appeal to any serious person on any part of the political spectrum. The two gay producers of the film tell Olson early on: "We really, really want to make this film, and we feel very, very passionate about global warming, and we’re very, very upset about it. We just don’t know why.” Any why not get Tom Cruise as the host? He’s a Scientologist, you know, and isn’t that the same as a scientist?
But Olsen has a serious purpose, which is to try to debunk, cleverly and with misdirection, skeptics and semi-skeptics like me, and point out to the climate alarmists that they really stink at getting their message across. Turns out Olson and his crew engaged in a bit of performance art in the making of this movie, including an African-American cameraman who affects being persuaded by the skeptics. Seems I didn’t fall for this ruse, though I don’t remember what I said a year ago in the studio taping and my reaction didn’t make the rough cut I have seen. In this and other respects the film is a very postmodern piece of work. It is certainly better viewing than Gore dirge-fest.
The scientific claims throughout are naturally contestable (especially the Hurricane Katrina section), but toward the end the film veers off into the politics and policy of the whole Kyoto Protocol debacle. I’ve made clear to Olson my critique of this section, which really requires a whole separate film treatment to begin to do it justice. There are a couple of factual mistakes here that I have flagged, and a few interpretive issues, too. But on the whole I expect the alarmists will be more unhappy about the film than I might be if I were the sort to be unhappy about such things. One blog comment I’ve seen I suspect will be typical of the reaction: "While I understand the rationale for making a light-hearted film about climate change, it also seems a bit odd to make a comedy about something that could plausibly exterminate the human race."