'An Inconvenient Truth' gores falsehoods overseas -- "Una Verdad Incomoda' anyone?
by Emmet Matridah...
Since its release in 2006, Al Gore's documentary cum lecture "An Inconvenient Truth" (AIT) has gone gliral -- globally viral --
and reached more eyeballs than producer Laurie David ever imagined. Well-received by climate cassandras and widely-criticized
by climate denialists, the Davis Guggenheim-helmed documentary perhaps did more to rally the troops around the
dual themes of climate change and global warming than any other film before it.
Okay, not everyone liked it. Marc Morano and Andrew Watts in the climate denialist camp hated the movie and never stop
saying so, even six years later. They will always hate that movie, most likely until hell freezes over -- or warms over even more,
as the case may be. Rush Limbaugh hated the movie so much he once wished on air for the death of New York Times
science reporter Andrew C. Revkin. (He later apologized for that tasteless and vulgar remark.)
Those who loved "An Inconvenient Truth" could not get enough of it. I, myself, saw it ten times, and with Chinese subtitles, here in
Taiwan. The film probably hit more eyeballs, and tugged at more heartstrings, than any environmental movie ever made. And
it screened worldwide, don't forget, from Sweden to Slovenia, from Poland to Peru.
And as AIT has travelled to distant climes across an ever-so-slowly warming world, its title morphed via translations into
a smorgasbord of convenient terms.
For example, in Mexico and Spain, it was titled "Una Verdad Incomoda." Even if you don't speak Spanish, you can guess that
"verdad' has something to do with "truth" (as in "cinema verite", from Spain's French cousins) and "incomoda" probably has something do with something being "non-commodius." Therefore, we might call it "A Non-commodious Truth" in the Spanish-to-English translation room.
In Israel, the film was titled "Emet Matridah," meaning "The Truth That Terrifies" or "The Disturbing Truth." Not having taken
Hebrew School lessons since grade school in the 1950s in western Massachusetts, my Hebrew is a bit rusty, but I can still
read the letters 50 years on.
According to Staffan Fenander in Sweden, a global friend I first met in the subways of Rome in the 1970s when he was busking
for cash singing Bob Dylan songs in the subways, the title of Gore's movie in Sweden was titled "En Obekvam Sanning." You don't need
to sit in a sauna to understand the meaning of those words, even if you don't speak Swedish, Staffan told me in a recent email. It's got
"inconvenient truth" written all over it, he said.
In China and Taiwan, the film title was given Mandarin characters that stood for "The Truth That Cannot Be Told."
For Portugal and Brazil, AIT was titled "Uma Verdade Inconveniente" -- and I think you get the message, even if you
don't speak Portuguese. Denmark called it "En Ubekvem Sanhed" and you can see the close relationship between Danish
and Swedish. Truth is universal, as is concern over climate change and global warming.
The naysayers. Pay them no mind. They are harmless, rightwing zealots for the most part, stuck in their ideological ruts
and afraid to see the world as she is. They mean well, but they do so much harm now. If they have their way, they'll
derail President Obama's climate concerns before they even become law. Lemmings? That might be a good word for our
friends on the right side of the aisles.
Hungary titled AIT as "Kellemetien Igazsag" and Greece called it "Mia Enohhitiki Alithea." Poland screened the Gore
docu as "Niewygodna Prawda", with Italy dubbing it as "Una Scomoda Verita."
France? France and Quebec did it the French way: "Une Verite Qui Derange" -- as in "the truth that could derange you if you
really understood what is happening to this third rock from the sun."
Germany and Austria went for "Eine Unbequeme Wahrheit" and on and on the foreign titles went, crisscrossing the four
corners of the globe, a globe that might be in for some heavy-duty climate chaos in the distant future if we don't get our
CO2 emissions under control soon. In 1988, Dr. Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University in New York made a prophetic
statement in an academic paper he published in some obscure journal that nobody read: "We must tighten the noose around coal."
He said that in 1988, and looked where we are now! Our use of coal -- and oil -- has only increased and we are in big trouble
as a species, the human species.
That's the inconvenient truth.
In related news, MSNBC recently pulled the wool over the entire media's eyes -- and the entire blogosphere as well -- with
its "faux interview" with climate doomsayer James Lovelock. I say faux because the interview was not a real interview, but
a mere PR gimmick by Lovelock's publisher's sales team to get the buzz rolling for his 2013 book on climate. Yes, at 93,
Lovelock still knows how to play the media for a good quote or two, and this time, he took MSNBC's Ian Johnston for a ride.
Sadly, the media fell for it, and headlines rang out with the news that "James Lovelock recants his doomsday predictions
on climate change."
In fact, and I say this as "James Lovelock's Accidental Student," Dr Lovelock merely told Johnston that his timeframe
for when the proverbial you know what will hit the fan will not be the end of this century, as he had earlier predicted, in
order to boost book sales six years ago, but rather in 300 to 500 years. So not now, but someday. Not now, but soon.
He did not recant. He did not backtrack. And yet that is what MSNBC mis-reported. Lovelock is a crafty old man,
with a great sense of humor, and he was just having fun with Johnston.
So the entire "interview" was a PR ploy, a planted story, a complete non-news story that had nothing to do with anything,
other than to boost pre-orders for Lovelock's 2013 book about climate, to be released by the Allen Lane imprint at Penguin
Books. And don't tell me Penguin doesn't have one of the savviest PR teams in New York because they do. Penguin just
set up Lovelock's 2013 tome for bestseller status, a good nine months before pub date. That's PR, that's marketing!