Hollywood misses the drama of climate change

Hollywood’s response to climate change includes donations, protests, and other activism. but it apparently misses an approach near home.

According to a new study of 37,453 film and television scripts from 2016-20, only a fraction of film literature, 2.8 percent, references words related to climate change. A blueprint for ways to reverse this was released on Tuesday (April 19).

“Good Energy: A Playbook for Screenwriting in the Age of Climate Change” was created with feedback from more than 100 film and television writers, said Anna Jane Joyner, editor-in-chief of the playbook and founder of Good Energy, a nonprofit consulting firm.

“A big hurdle we encountered was that writers were associating climate stories with apocalypse stories,” she said in an interview. “The primary purpose of the playbook is to expand that menu of possibilities…to a wider spectrum of how it would show up in our real life.”

Those who have funded the Playbook project include Bloomberg Philanthropies, Sierra Club and the Walton Family Foundation.

Waves of celebrities have sounded climate alarm, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Fonda, Don Cheadle and Shailene Woodley. DiCaprio also starred Don’t look upthe 2021 Oscar-nominated film in which a comet hurtling toward an indifferent Earth is a metaphor for the danger of indifference to climate change.

Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Don’t Look Up”

(Niko Tavernise/Netflix)

But the playbook asks writers and industry leaders to consider a variety of less-serious approaches, Joyner said, including examples and resources.

“We describe it as a spectrum, everything from showing the effects with solutions in the background,” like adding solar panels to an exterior shot of a building, she said. Occasional mentions of climate change in scenes can also be effective.

“When you’re already connected to a character in a story and they come up authentically in conversation for the character, it reassures the audience that it’s okay to talk about it in your day-to-day life,” Joyner said.


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Dorothy Fortenberry, television writer (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and playwright, said the industry needs to broaden its view of who it writes about, not just what.

“Climate change is something that’s affecting people right now, who aren’t necessarily the people that Hollywood usually writes stories about. It affects farmers in Bangladesh, farmers in Peru, farmers in Kentucky,” Fortenberry said. “If we were telling stories about different types of people, there would be ways to seamlessly weave in the climate.”

The entertainment industry’s failure to use its storytelling capabilities more effectively on this issue doesn’t seem surprising to Joyner, who has worked in communicating about climate change across sectors and communities for 15 years.

In the first decade, the lack of response made it feel like “shouting into the void,” Joyner said. But there are signs of growing concern about climate change among Americans, she said, including those in Hollywood.

“We’ve all gone through some kind of awakening,” she said. There are a number of documentaries and news programs on climate change, she said, expressing optimism that novelists will make steady progress.

Good Energy funded script analysis through the Norman Lear Center’s Media Impact Project at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

As part of the study, which has yet to be fully published, the researchers checked for references to 36 keywords and phrases, including “climate change,” “fracking,” and “global warming,” in TV episodes and movies released in the US market became.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/climate-crisis-hollywood-scriptwriters-b2060679.html Hollywood misses the drama of climate change


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