In this movie commentary (not a review) there will be plenty of plot spoilers. The movie is old, I saw it on Netflix, but if you have not seen it you might not appreciate the below.
It is a movie about our mass suicide, the outcome of our race towards material advancement. The Age of Stupid (2009) could have easily been title Age of Ignorance, both candidates were spoken in sequence by the deflated, rock skinned oil scientist in the final moments of the movie. Ignorance. It is ignorance not on account of missing knowledge but as in ignoring knowledge. Mid-way through the film we hear that lobby groups, and think tanks, that once were banked by Big Tobacco to deny in the public sphere and in Congress the cancerous consequences of smoking are now at work denying global warming. The case made in 10 seconds is fabulously elaborated in a book packed with evidence to corroborate the claim: Merchants of Doubt, by Erik Conway and Naomi Oreskes. It turns out that you don’t need to deny the science, you just need to create doubt, suspicion, delay, and confuse.
To me the puzzle of global warming is self interest. How self-interest is fabricated and trafficked across borders, like a new pair of underwear. The most compelling testimonies/characters of the movie were neither the villainous budge airline CEO nor the saintly wind turbine engineer. They were the shell shocked oil scientist and the aspiring and oppressed Nigerian young woman. They embody a confusion that is more organic, not one imposed by neoliberal think tanks, but seemingly one the movie calls “consumerism.” People that can’t reconcile the meaning of the threat with their own sense of worth, identity, and prospect. I am sure I fit there too.
The movie makes an appropriate appeal to collective action but all collective action we see is the self-interest, elistic, kind, voting communities that reject wind farms because they tarnish the view and deflate property values. Self-interest need not be privatized solitude but it is. The self is paper thin, and flying in the wind without attachment. The self is a legal self, a career self, a bodily self, and it is always singular. Perhaps I am saying we need to think ourselves as ecology, as the planet, though that sounds a bit too mystic for my taste, we can certainly think ourselves in good old revolutionary tradition as political, and take ownership not just of our lives but of our polities.