Politics And Bad Acting

<b>Bill Geist</b> On The Politicizing Of Disaster Flicks

This week's commentary is by 60 Minutes II Columnist Bill Geist.
And now, turning to the weather...

You'll want to take along that umbrella. It's going to be a wet one out there ... wet and breezy, turning cooler later in the day.

That's been the weather in theaters across the country since the opening of the blockbuster disaster film "The Day After Tomorrow."

I love disaster movies, with their implausible impending doom, killer bees, asteroids, accompanied by mass mayhem, and one level-headed guy who nobody will listen to until it's too late!

And, of course, some good old-fashioned bad acting.

But "The Day After Tomorrow" is also accompanied by politics, and isn't everything? Republican-Democrat; conservative-liberal.

Give us a break!

Movies are supposed to be an escape from reality!

The trouble is, the evildoer in "The Day After Tomorrow" is not an army of space aliens or a giant lizard, but rather global warming, which George Bush doesn't really believe in. No word yet about where he stands on this whole "round Earth-flat Earth" question.

Environmental groups are using the film as an opening to increase awareness of potential global-warming hazards, from drought to famine, to the increasing difficulty of finding a place to put your towel on shrinking beaches.

But this movie is completely over the top, based on a book co-authored by a gentleman who claims to have been abducted by aliens – and, alas, returned.

Anyway, annoying activists are passing out global warming flyers at this summer disaster movie, which seems to me about as effective as handing out opera schedules at a pro wrestling match. Indeed, the political undercurrent seems lost on most moviegoers.

The Bush administration is a little touchy about the movie because it shows a vice president, who looks a lot like Dick Cheney, going to an international conference and pooh-poohing global warming.

All of this is threatening to ruin a perfectly good, dumb summer disaster movie by turning it into an "issue" film. Al Gore has given it a thumbs-up, which is the last thing you want to happen to an action-adventure movie.

But, politics aside, I think it's significant, and I'm pleased to see that, after 9/11, we've bounced back to the point where it's once again perfectly fine to completely destroy the Big Apple on the silver screen – perfectly fine for radioactive prehistoric reptiles and space aliens to walk the streets of New York, wreaking havoc, the way monsters always have.