That line alone was worth the price of admission to Twister. That besides the voice recording when I called for movie times that informed me that it was rated “R” for bad weather. My daughter and I have been fans of what we've called Bad Weather movies ever since. The Day After Tomorrow, Volcano (Mt. Wilshire!), 2012. Meteors, hurricanes, floods, snowmageddons, earthquakes, super volcanos. We love them. Corny stories, special effects, and all. I have no excuse for not watching the Sharknado movies, except bad timing. I know they will still be somewhere when I need them.
It was all big fun. Imagining that moment when you realize that the world you know will soon no longer exist. What do you do? How do you cope? Why is it that it’s always only one person who saves the world? You fume and rewrite the movie as it’s running. Why does everybody act so stupid? Because they certainly will? Or maybe there’s another way.
Hurricane Harvey sits for a week on top of an area of Texas the size of some other sizeable state and rains. Rains. Fifty inches of rain in some places. Texans with boats pulled off their own Dunkirk. An illegal immigrant lost his life trying to save some folks. A deputy sheriff lost his trying to get to work because he was needed. People checked on each other. Lots of them probably had guns. They didn’t use them. They saved pets. They got into pool floats and went to help other people. What the hell kind of disaster movie is this?
Hurricane Irma comes up out of the Atlantic, building power on power until it hits tiny islands with a Force 5 fist. The trajectory is splayed out on my TV screen in a yellow balloon that swallows the entire State of Florida. I weep (figuratively speaking) for tiny Barbuda, but I experience a sensation approaching unholy joy at the prospect of Florida being eaten alive.
That’s when I realize that my fascination with real-life Bad Weather movies is bordering on Disaster Porn.
I have issues with Florida, none of which have a damn thing to do with real Florida. They are all to do with the Florida I know from cable news – even the best ones. They’re all about hanging chads and climate change denial. Far right radio talk show hosts and a certain golf club. My tweet one day read, For all of us hoping that Irma destroys Mar-a-lago, we should remember that innocent people – oh, hell with it. Take the damned thing out. Or words to that effect.
I was no longer watching a natural disaster in real time affecting real people. I was watching a Bad Weather Movie, and hoping the bad guys would pay. I was getting off on Disaster Porn.
In my defense, I will say that I am no longer excited by the possibility of Hurricane Jose following in Irma’s footsteps. Yes, I know that tells you that at one time I hoped it would – for no better reason than my own amusement. For my own IRL OMG thrill of a lifetime. You want back to the stone age? How about the Cretaceous? Mwa hahahaha.
But no longer.
Here’s what I actually saw. Highways full of people evacuating in an orderly fashion. No explosions, no gunfights, no fistfights, just families getting to safety as best they could.
A governor for whom I have little respect stepping up in the best way possible, opening shelters, giving information on where and how to get help, assuring people that they could take their pets, leading his state in a thoughtful, intelligent way. I will likely resume my disdain for him if he continues to ignore the warnings of climate change, but I am also reassured that he can and will do what he can to protect his citizens when the need arises.
A Republican office holder who does believe in climate change, laughing out loud when she heard that Scott Pruitt doesn’t want to upset Floridians by mentioning it.
A Facebook friend who hunkered down and survived, house intact, and is now trying to get herself organized to go help others.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
I’m glad that Florida survived. I’m glad that it wasn’t flattened back to the Cretaceous. I hope they learn some lessons for the future – and I hope Texas does too. But whatever. They are both full of people worth saving. Harvey and Irma have reminded me of that.
I can’t swear I won’t succumb to the lure of Disaster Porn again, but maybe I can be better prepared. Maybe a week of Sharknado would get the need for spectacle out of my system, so I can concentrate on the land and critters affected, and wish them out of harm’s way. Maybe I can be a somewhat better person. Maybe.