I’ve been a pop culture columnist for the last 22 years. For the most part, I can count on droves of people who want to talk about Star Wars, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Marvel Movies, Neil Gaiman, The Kardashians, that breakthrough Pinoy Indie, our music or comics scene.
But for the first time since I’ve been doing this, most eyes and ears seem to be focused on and compelled by the unraveling of current events—and perhaps no other week in recent memory has been as dramatic as the last.
Over here, we marked the anniversary of Typhoon Haiayan which made us reflect on the issue of climate change (for one). Consequently, the Philippine Supreme Court gave clearance for the burial of former President Marcos and threats of suspending the writ of habeas corpus circulated. For the “icing” on the cake, the world is looking at a Trump presidency.
All of a sudden, discussions on pop culture have taken a back seat to almost fever pitch discussions on local and world politics. The events even had me reading and watching more educational videos and sober commentaries. (I’m all good just as long as the news site is not fake! There are so many.)
In as much Netflix’s The Crown (on Queen Elizabeth II) has gotten a buzz, Coldplay announced a show here in April, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them opens soon and the new live action Beauty and the Beast trailer is out—the conversation has been so focused on how real world political plotlines are unfolding.
To this, I opted to watch a relevant documentary produced by National Geographic: Before The Flood which was directed by Fisher Stevens and produced by (among others) Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese.
Leonardo DiCaprio focuses on the effects of climate change as he travels the planet—the United States, India, China, Canada, Greenland, Argentina, Kiribati, Palau, Indonesia, France—and talks to scientists, key figures and world leaders—the Pope, Barack Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Elon Musk.
It does make more people listen, knowing it is Leonardo DiCaprio talking. The most touching and affecting part of the documentary—for me, at least—is his interview with Piers Sellers, an astronaut and NASA scientist who talks about what it is like to see the pale blue dot from above. He talks about how the world looks on its night side and day side and reveals so much from an incredibly unique perspective most of us will never have a chance to experience. I won’t reveal too much, as I consider it a highlight of the film.
The last documentary I saw on the subject was Racing Extinction produced by the Discovery Channel. I can see where all these climate change “activists” are coming from—every day people can still put pressure on their leaders and can still make simple choices to arrest the pace at which things are happening.
However, it seems louder voices, firmer actions and greater champions may need to emerge considering that leadership in the US is made up of a kind that refuse to acknowledge that issue of climate change is a real one. Try and tell that to people who live in the Philippines and Kiribati for starters.
* * *
Before the Flood is currently available for free for a limited time on YouTube.