Mike the Mad Biologist

Sizzle: Needs More Steak

I’m not sure what to make of Randy Olson’s newest movie, Sizzle. One reason is that the first half of the movie is weak.

Much of the humor is well, not funny. Yes, there are a couple funny moments, but it reminds me of those Saturday Night Live skits that are funny for the first thirty seconds, and by two minutes have just gone on for too long. If nothing else, it makes one appreciate that what Michael Moore does in his documentaries (whether you love them or hate them) is really difficult. The second half of the movie is more engaging, and it does ask an important question: why do the global warming denialists have such traction given the overwhelming evidence against them?

Olson cleverly touches on one part of the answer, which is that environmental advocates, when discussing global warming, don’t provide visceral, concrete examples easily grasped by most people. The flipside and the downside of this is Olson’s notion, which he has also raised in Flock of Dodos, that ‘scientists’ don’t speak like other humans. One would be virtually unaware of the role that a massive, perpetually funded denialist propaganda machine plays in all of this–it’s the geeky scientists who don’t know how to communicate. That’s too simple an explanation.

So what to make of Sizzle? It’s not bad, particularly the second half, although I question the honesty of using Hurricane Katrina as the face of environmental destruction (I suppose you go to production with the natural disaster you have, not the natural disaster you wish you had, so to speak). But I watched Snakes on a Plane the night before, and found it more enjoyable, and not that less meaty.