Saturday, July 01, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

When I’ve been told that An Inconvenient Truth is a slide show presentation on environmental data… well, it’s only part true. An Inconvenient Truth is about a man on a mission. It is a mission far greater than becoming president. It is a mission to save the world.

An Inconvenient Truth is the documentary of a man giving a presentation on the results of data collected by environmental scientists over the last fifty years. The results are supported with some very convincing photographic documentation of recent natural disasters; arctic ice shelf collapses; and the dramatic recession and glaciers snow cap mountains as well as the disappearance of rivers and lakes. The film also explores the motivation of the man who gives the presentation

The man giving the presentation is Al Gore. So, it is natural that this film will also carry some political weight and bias. But the moment that is interjected into the connotative analysis of the film the point is missed.

First, let us call this film a documentary because of the time invested in learning the narrator’s motivation for learning about and lecturing on this issue. Though it is told from a first person perspective and does not investigate another point of view there isn’t another one to investigate when the film involves the following four points. I am Al Gore. I have lectured on global warming since the 1970s. Here is why I lecture on this issue around the world. Here are the facts I have gathered along the way.

Second, what can be assumed is that it will be labeled a piece of docuganda by pundits on the right. Docuganda is defined as propaganda disguised as documentary because the film intends to influence rather than inform. The softer term is advocacy documentary. If the audience member chooses not to see this film as the abbreviated chronicle of a man’s motivation to give this lecture, then it can easily be seen as advocacy documentary because it is first person, because it only presents one point of view, and because the information is succinctly distilled for cogent comprehension.

But, so what? What is he advocating? Here is an abbreviated list, which are paraphrased from the closing credits. Higher fuel emission standards. Cleaner energy policies. Using energy saving appliances. Recycling. Using alternative transportation like public transportation, walking or bicycling. Demanding green and renewable energy options. Writing your congressman to support greener technologies.

Are these bad things to be advocating? No. Does it mean some conscious decisions need to be made on many individual levels? Yes. Will these decisions be convenient? Perhaps you missed that clever title assigned to the film.

Why else will it get labeled docuganda? Because of some of the gentle stabs Gore takes at the current administration on their environmental policies. Additionally, calling it docuganda, attempts to discredit the message for fear that any potential popularity from the film and media attention of the film may generate a Gore ’08 Campaign. And this misses the point of the film. Gore has globe-trotted for the last five years lecturing on how our current dependence on fossil fuel is a direct cause in global warming. Five years. It’s worth a listen.


there is some information to support Gore's claim in the film that ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are shrinking at drastic rates.

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