The Intersection

The “two cultures” effect that we’re seeing with the responses to Sizzle continues: Now the famed industry rag Variety loves the film that has many scientists scratching their heads (or worse). From the Variety reviewer:

The film emerges, more skillfully than “Flock of Dodos,” as an exceedingly clever vehicle for making science engaging to a general audience, and also presents climate-change science in a more complex light than the overtly partisan “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Does the film perpetrate stereotypes? Variety:

Silpa and Clark push the flaming-queen stereotype right to the edge without sinking the comedy.

Entire review here.

Comments

  1. #1 llewelly
    July 29, 2008

    The Variety review seems to make no mention of issues specific to science communication. Instead it says:

    Perhaps the most startling aspect for open-minded viewers is that rather than bringing the global-warming debate to a close, “Sizzle” reopens it, and only raises more questions.

  2. #2 Rev Matt
    July 29, 2008

    Even funnier is the fact that the reviewer clearly missed the entire supposed point of the movie. So it may be a perfectly entertaining movie that communicates none of what the producer intended. The review notes that ‘Perhaps the most startling aspect for open-minded viewers is that rather than bringing the global-warming debate to a close, “Sizzle” reopens it, and only raises more questions.’

    So yea, that’s some effective science communication right there. Huzzah!

  3. #3 Mark F.
    July 29, 2008

    Sure, they like the film, but it sounds to me like they’re missing the point that Olson was trying to make (based upon what I’ve read at the various blogs here at ScienceBlogs). Instead, what they appear to have gotten out of it is that the debate is still ongoing with regards to climate change. Isn’t this EXACTLY the narrative that the denialists want to perpetuate?

  4. #4 Matt Hussein Platte
    July 29, 2008

    Olson grants solid global-warming skeptics screen time, ironically turning the hot issue into a real debate.

    Is this a Good Thing? I thought the IPCC report settled the “debate”.

    Plz explain.

  5. #5 mk
    July 29, 2008

    This is getting bizarre. Chris, are you really that desperate to “prove” you’re right?

  6. #6 Screechy Monkey
    July 29, 2008

    First sentence of the review:

    “One of the funniest details of Randy Olson’s funny “Sizzle” is that a film designed to convince that global warming is a present danger may do precisely the opposite.”

    So yeah, great science communication.

    Of course, I doubt that science communication is Olsen’s goal. I think he’s just trying to make an entertaining and successful film, which is fine, but then there shouldn’t be any special obligation on the part of sciencebloggers to support it.

  7. #7 OmegaMom
    July 29, 2008

    I’ll ask you what I asked Randy on his blog (though others have also commented on it):

    Variety loved it. Yet they also had this to say: “…rather than bringing the global-warming debate to a close, “Sizzle” reopens it, and only raises more questions.” And this: “…a film designed to convince that global warming is a present danger may do precisely the opposite.” And this: “The skeptics actually begin to win the day, at least onscreen, and Julia Bovey, spokeswoman for the environmentalist Natural Resources Defense Council, comes off as far less convincing than Olson may have hoped.”

    So. Did Randy want to present a film that actually causes people to doubt global warming? I know it’s been a labor of love for Randy, but I thought all along that he wanted to present a solid case for global warming, in addition to investigating the question of how scientists should communicate with the general public. Or did he want to make an “object lesson” that scientists would listen to, showing that the naysayers are better at communicating, at the cost of spreading a message against global warming?

  8. #8 jon
    July 29, 2008

    Finale in New Orleans is the pic’s only miscalculation: It shuts off the comedy and fails to make any scientific link between warming and hurricanes such as Katrina.

    So..the New Orleans tie in fell flat.

    Overall, it sounds like they liked it as a comedy and didn’t find it made a persuasive case on global warming, which would appear to undermine a key goal of the film.

    Given the way the review was presented in the original post, I expected the actual Variety article to be much more positive. It sounds like the Sb criticism was more in line with Variety than you seem to think, Chris. The biggest difference seems to be that not everyone liked the humor as much as the Variety writer.

  9. #9 James Hrynyshyn
    July 29, 2008

    The first line of Variety’s review says it all: “a film designed to convince that global warming is a present danger may do precisely the opposite.”

    I don’t agree with that, but the mere fact that Variety got such a message from film suggests to me that Olson has failed.

  10. #10 Lee Harrison
    July 29, 2008

    Does the film perpetrate stereotypes? Variety:

    Silpa and Clark push the flaming-queen stereotype right to the edge without sinking the comedy.

    So, in other words: yes, it does perpetuate stereotypes – but it’s funny. Hmmm…

  11. #11 Christophe Thill
    July 30, 2008

    And what’s exactly the difference between this “in a more complex light” and the famous “teach the controversy”?

  12. #12 Wes
    July 30, 2008

    One of the funniest details of Randy Olson’s funny “Sizzle” is that a film designed to convince that global warming is a present danger may do precisely the opposite.

    …I don’t find that very encouraging.

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