Thereâ€™s an episode of The Simpsons in which Martin, one of the nerdy kids, spends his last ten bucks on a talking Al Gore doll. â€œYou are hearing me talk,â€ says the doll. It cracks me up every time. Plus, itâ€™s a fairly accurate assessment of the production version of Al Gore. Stiff, not that interesting, but honest, very very honest.
Last night I attended a screening of Al Goreâ€™s new movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Itâ€™s a film version of Al Goreâ€™s slide show on global warming. His science is undeniably thorough and accurate. His passion about the issue is palpable, even on screen. This man has done his homework, exhaustively, and when the movie is over you have no doubt that his case is clear and that action is essential.
But I fell asleep in the middle anyway.
Granted, I am still in the throes of jetlag and staying up past nine at night presents some serious challenges, but I was still more than a little bored. Thereâ€™s some good stuff in there, but a lot of it feels like sitting through a Power Point presentation at a meeting you donâ€™t really want to be at. The interspersed footage about Al Goreâ€™s personal life is supposed to illustrate how he came to be so passionate about the issue of global warming, but it struck me as somewhere between maudlin and a little bit vain. And also, beside the point.
All this is too bad, because you know what? Al Gore quite a good speaker and he is not boring at all.
I got a call at the last minute instructing me to rush to downtown Seattle where Iâ€™d get to see the movie and hear some local politicians speak briefly about the issues. Ron Sims and Greg Nickels – introduced by KC Golden from Climate Solutions – were there and talked about the work they were doing in King County and Seattle to reduce the regionâ€™s contributions to global warming. Then after the movieâ€¦ surprise! Christine Gregoire and the man himself, Al Gore.
There are a few amusing bits in the movie. Mr. Gore introduces himself and says, â€œI used to be the next president of the United States.â€ Ouch. Thereâ€™s another funny little thing with a scissor lift. Itâ€™s cute but also kind of controlled. But in person, unscripted, Mr. Gore is entertaining and funny and on fire about the issues. His voice gets louder and his hands wave around and he is inspiring. Here are just a few (probably inaccurate and not as good to read as they are to hear) quotes.
â€œWe borrow money from China to buy oil from a region that is so unstable that we end up sending troops there every few yearsâ€¦ this is NOT sustainable! â€œ
â€œThere seems to be some kind of puritanical underpinnings to the movement that wants to make us feel BAD about buying STUFF. I LIKE going to Costco. I am not going to stop going to Costco. â€œ
â€œOne day, we will be able to go places without taking 3000 pounds of metal with us every time. When we look back on this time, weâ€™ll say, wow, that was weird.â€
I was hopped up, and sitting on the edge of my seat while I watched the VP take questions and pace back and forth. Heâ€™s got good stuff to say and itâ€™s interesting to hear him say it. Pity there wasnâ€™t more of that Al Gore in the movie.
Thereâ€™s a lot of hype out there about how you need to see this movie. Iâ€™m not totally convinced that you do. After all, here you are, reading me, so I suspect youâ€™re already part of the choir. The real reason you need to see this movie might have more to do more with marketing than your need to be converted to the faithful. If you pack the house on opening weekend, the movie will get some decent press and then, maybe folks who actually do need to see the movie will get themselves to the megaplex.
That said, if you decide to go because you feel like you just donâ€™t know enough about global warming, prepare with a good strong blast of caffeine. The other thing you can do, which may be the more compelling story in the long run, is to sign up to be a presenter of the Al Gore show. After seeing the movie and then hearing the man live, I think itâ€™s better to go the live route. If you are the sort who could be a passionate voice for the crisis of global warming, you may be able to effect more change than a documentary about a politician giving a slide show.