Friday, November 14, 2014

John Podhoretz on why he is about to embrace the reality of climate change and AGW, despite his rightwing insanity cred

You want to like Interstellar. Why wouldn’t you? It’s a big, juicy, fancy, ambitious, emotional epic about the future of humankind. It has a killer lead performance by Matthew McConaughey. And for conservatives, the movie is full of surprising “Easter eggs” suggesting (as the blockbuster Batman movies, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, did) that its co-writer/-director Christopher Nolan is a quiet member of the right-wing tribe.

Interstellar is set some years in the future, after an unexplained phenomenon called the “blight” has destroyed much of the world’s food supply and evidently killed all animals, save humans. Dust coats everything. But there’s still time for Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper--once an astronaut, now a farmer--to have a parent-teacher conference at school. And what happens there? He is given a lecture about teaching his daughter politically incorrect twaddle, like that America went to the moon in 1969. The textbooks have been corrected, he is told, to say the space program was a hoax designed to bankrupt the Soviet Union.

What? Some might look at this and say that Nolan (and his cowriter brother Jonathan) are parodying conspiracy theorists. But for those of us sunk deep into the roots of American conservatism, the signs are all there: the crunchy-granola teacher, the politically doctored textbooks, the anti-American theory, even Cooper’s quietly enraged and knowing response. And what the signs say is this: Christopher Nolan reads The Weekly Standard.

Or if not The Weekly Standard, then National Review. Or Reason, even: The movie is anti-authority in a libertarian/Randian way. Government bureaucrats are bad; lionized experts are not deserving of their lionization. (There is one line about how it’s better that government is using metal to build a spaceship rather than to make bullets, but it’s a throwaway.) But—my God—he might even listen to Rush Limbaugh. Why do I say this? Well, Mark Steyn is one of Limbaugh’s key guest hosts. And the name of the movie’s villain is also the name of Mark Steyn’s antagonist in a libel-and-slander war over climate change. LOL!

That might be a coincidence, but I just don’t know. It is notable that the terms “global warming” and “climate change” are not used to describe the environmental depredation of the Earth—notable because that would be the easiest cultural shorthand for Nolan to use. It feels like there’s a reason for their absence.

According to the New York Post’s Kyle Smith:

Interstellar is a vision of American guts and greatness and ingenuity that would have made John Wayne smile. Using technology, Nolan asserts, man can and should bend the environment to his will, not serve it. No matter what challenges we may face, Cooper states, in a stirring line that serves as the film’s epigraph, “We’ll find a way. We always have.” What Cooper means is entrepreneurship, invention, exploration—not regulation, restriction and abnegation.

It’s also the rare clience-fiction movie that will make you cry, and trust me, it will. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house during the last five minutes, very much including my own.

So I liked Interstellar. Very much. While I was watching it. Which is why I can justify recommending it to you. The problem is that, as you walk away from the theater, it begins to make less and less sense. The more of an impression it makes on you, the more it makes you think about it, the more it begins to fall apart.

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