You might assume that An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore’s Oscar-winning PowerPoint presentation, was the first alarmist documentary on global warming by a celebrity. But that distinction actually goes to The Unchained Goddess (1958), a video produced by Frank Capra (“It’s a Wonderful Life”) and narrated by Mel Blanc (voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Barney Rubble, et al.). The video was first produced for Bell Labs for their television program “The Bell Telephone Hour.”
Gore’s apocalyptic claims are rather tame compared to those made by Dr. Frank Baxter. In an early scene Dr. Baxter–an English professor playing a scientist–explains the dangers that we face:
“It’s been calculated that a few degrees rise in temperature would melt the polar ice caps. And if this happens, an inland sea would fill a good portion of the Mississippi valley. Tourists in glass-bottomed boats viewing the ground towers of Miami through one hundred and fifty feet of tropical water.
The animated map showing several states (including Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas) completely covered in water is the height of campy alarmist brilliance.
Like other Bell science films, The Unchained Goddess was shown in middle school science classes throughout the sixties. (Is it possible that Gore saw this film and had an eco-epiphany?) Hundreds of thousands of students were therefore made aware of the dangers of C02 emissions and melting icecaps. So why didn’t they do anything about it? If the threat of Walt Disney World becoming Waterworld wasn’t enough to scare the Baby Boom generation, why does Gore think we’ll care now?
Other posts in this series:
- The Rise of Polyamorous Advertising
- The Passion of the Rappers
- Gnostic Inoculation
- A New World of Blurs