Stories matter, but not all stories are created equal.

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Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

There are a lot of things we need in order to face climate change. Individual action and policy change are necessary, but we often overlook the importance of stories. Narratives help us to create meaning, and we are in desperate need of meaning.

Narrative becomes the way you make sense of chaos. That’s how you focus the world. It’s the only reason you should ever try this writing job.

- Dennis Lehane (Author: Shutter Island, Mystic River)

Put simply,

Stories matter.

- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Author: Americanah, Half of a Yellow Sun)

But of course, not all stories are made equal. Themes surrounding climate change are starting to find their way into popular films, but there have been some serious flaws. …


Climate Change is about much more than cold statistics

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Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

I recently published a post on Medium titled, We Need to Meet Climate Change with Art, but it was only the beginning of what I hope to be a long series of blog posts exploring how we might better make art that addresses the wider issues of climate change.

As I hope you’ve guessed by now, this is one of those posts.

One of art’s most unique roles in addressing climate change is in expressing the wide spectrum of emotions surrounding the climate crisis and allowing us to connect over our shared experience.

For today, I chose to explore 3 key emotions surrounding climate change — RAGE, Despair, and Hope. …


There’s more here than Call of Duty and Candy Crush.

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Photo by Sean Stone on Unsplash

It’s been a long time coming, but video games are finally reaching popular recognition as an art form with unique possibilities to positively influence the larger cultural landscape. To be sure, there will always be a market for mindless video games just as much as there is a market for mindless tv and film, but gone are the days when people can dismiss video games as only mindless entertainment.

As I said, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Candy Crush has the power to change our world. Still, no one can deny that there is a well-established place for thought-provoking video games coming from an ever-expanding community of both independent and mainstream developers. This space, filled with unmistakably artistic video games, gives us a unique opportunity to take on climate change in ways that traditionally recognized art forms cannot. …


A Personal Exploration of the Obama-years

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Photo by Cameron Catanzano

Joe Biden is president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump is apparently living in an alternate reality, and Between the World and Me is available for streaming on HBO Max. There’s no better time than now to jump back into Ta-Nehisi Coates’s We Were Eight Years in Power.

If there is one unifying focus throughout We Were Eight Years In Power it is to understand and reflect upon the 8 years of Obama’s presidency, but there is more to this book. Coates does not stop at the surface. Truly understanding those 8 years of American history requires diving into the larger context of Michelle, Barack, and the worlds they operated in — leaving the reader with a better understanding of who we are as a country and the interwoven cultural and historical forces that are still at play today. …


Why Environmentalists Need to Rethink Nuclear Energy

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Photo by Thomas Millot on Unsplash

As you are probably well aware, climate change is an existential threat to the future of human civilization. Yet, we shoot ourselves in the foot every day that we try and ignore the importance of nuclear energy to curb this disaster. The science and technology of nuclear fission has developed significantly since the days of the cold war, but misinformation and bad PR continues to hold back the full utilization of nuclear power in our clean energy portfolios.

Maybe this is all news to you, or maybe you watched the Bill Gates documentary and have a positive but surface-level understanding of the technology. Either way, Gwyneth Cravens’s book Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy should launch right to the top of your environmentally conscious reading list. …


Aspiring Environmental Lawyer Exploring Art’s Role Taking on Climate Change

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I come from a family of surfers, hikers, and campers. In other words, my childhood is littered with memories of exploring national parks and road-tripping across the desert beaches of Baja California.

But, these trips were always about more than exercise or a shared appreciation for scenic views. Spending time outdoors would eventually become a central part of my identity and even shape my philosophy for what it means to be a human being on planet earth.


A Conventional Symbol Applied to a Novel Problem

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Photo by Aay Kay on Unsplash

Hot weather — and the many ways we’ve learned to communicate it — has come to play many important roles in our stories. We often use Heat to build a juxtaposition of worlds, communicate a character’s disorientation, or symbolize an unavoidable reality demanding our attention.

Juxtaposition:

Florida Project gives us an example of Heat’s visual juxtaposition turned towards the film’s larger class critique. In Florida Project, we spend the whole movie focused on a motel community caked in constant Florida-style sweat, all while living next to the dream-like Disney World.

The one time I distinctly remember characters without such apparent sweat is when a couple accidentally ends up at the motel during their honeymoon to Disney World. The couple was truly of some other world than our main characters, and it is self-evident that ending up in this motel was a big problem for them. So, as quickly as they enter the film they get the heck out of that motel. …


Two very different films taking their stab at a very important issue.

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Photo by Myke Simon on Unsplash

This post was originally part of a larger post looking critically at how common themes of climate change have been finding their way into popular films. However, that post was getting LONG, and I decided to cut these movies out for a part-2 of sorts.

In the original post, I split these common Hollywood narratives into 2 main groups: Apocalyptic Dystopias and Climate Conscious Bad Guys, but in today’s post, I will be exploring 2 films that don’t fit neatly into either category.

If you haven’t read the first post yet, I highly recommend checking it out before you read on. …


Understanding our past so we can better navigate our future.

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Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

In many regards, the movement to fight climate change has come out of and is bound to the traditions and political coalitions of environmentalists. So, it is vital that we understand these roots, learn from the mistakes of history, and make our decisions with a wide-angle view of the cultural and political forces that have come before us.

It’s worth noting that I have complicated feelings about this book, but I stand by recommending it to anyone serious enough to finish this 385-page history of the United States’ dominant cultural, philosophical, and political perceptions of wilderness going back to our European routes. …


Artists have a unique responsibility to address climate change, and we really need to start stepping up our game.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I think climate change is the largest issue humankind has yet to face. It’s like nothing we’ve ever met before. Public policy needs to radically change if we want to stop this, but artists also have a unique responsibility to step up. Art is by no means the one and only answer, but we can’t ignore its importance to affect real material change. Art creates meaning, and we’re desperately in need of meaning here.

We’ve all seen protest posters and murals that say “Save The Planet”. I love those. I think they’re great, but… We need more than that. We need to push our boundaries. …

About

Cameron Catanzano

Recent college grad with a love for writing and diving headfirst into new and exciting subjects.

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