With films like “Noah” and “Into the Storm” and “Snowpiercer” – and “Interstellar” coming in the late fall — Hollywood has seen the handwriting on the wall and embraced climate themes in full technicolor. Call the movies ”cli fi” or disaster thrillers, whatever. There’s more to come in the film world.
But while Hollywood and studio marketing people (and online social media reporters covering new film releases) have welcomed ”cli fi” into the fold, the book world seems to be aloof to all this and show little interest in the rise of the cli fi genre term.
I am not sure why, but maybe it has to do with literary critics and book section editors feeling that literature is a ”sacred calling” and only the all-powerful editors — as ”gatekeepers” — can decide what’s real and what’s not in the literary world. So be it.
The more I thought about the disconnect between the literary world of the book industry compared with the open arms in Hollywood, the more I began to realize that the print novel is basically dead — in the rising waters of global warming — and has little power anymore to influence people or impact society.
The New York and London book review section editors are for the most part just a bunch of gatekeepers and the gatekeepers don’t seem to care about climate change. They have their own agendas. Like being cool and trendy and avantgarde and the like. Climate change is apparently not on the menu at the hip restaurants where they dine in Manhattan and London.
So I now feel that the real power of cli fi to change the world, to wake people up lies in Hollywood and world cinema, indie cinema as well. Hollywood and the media covering Hollywood are getting the cli fi message much better and much more directly than the print media gatekeepers.
Novels about climate change still will have a place in our culture but a very limited one, and one getting smaller day by day in this digital world of 500 channels and multiple YouTube distractions. Speculative fiction and eco-fiction novels still find readers. Look at Margaret Atwood; look at Barbara Kingsolver; look at Kim Stanley Robinson; look at James Vandermeer; look at David Brin.
I’ve noticed this sea change as Hollywood directors and PR mavens have recently become much more with it, in terms of “getting” the cli fi message. When Time magazine did a three-page cli fi spread on summer cli fi movies in its May 19, 2014 issue, I began to notice the way the print and online media were handling the new, mushrooming cli fi genre.
After the Time article by Lily Rothman came out, the New York Times ”Room for Debate” forum picked up the Hollywood angle for cli fi movies, assigning academics and experts to talk about films such as “Snowpiercer” and “Into the Storm” and the upcoming “Interstellar.”
I see a big future of cli fi movies in Hollywood. Big. Look around in the social media world: From Time to the New York Times, from Mashable’s Andrew Freedman to the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column, there has been more ink about Hollywood and cli fi than anywhere else.
So I am following my gut instinct and my media radar and hoping to see cli fi genre turn into a real bonanza in the realm of Hollywood film directors and producers and writers. There is a big future for cli fi in Hollywood. Cinema has the power to impact the world over important issues of climate change and global warming.
Of course, speculative fiction novels and eco-fiction novels still have a place in our culture, and many of these novels will be adapted as screenplays and see the light of day as popular movies, so writers still have a role to play in all this. As a climate activist and PR guy, I take the cli fi genre very seriously, and I now see that Hollywood is where cli fi belongs, front and center.
Do the math: movies reach millions. Most midlist novels reach 3,000 people, if that many.