Volcano, San Andreas, 2012: Why Disaster Movies Suck

why disaster movies suck

Films like “Volcano” and “San Andreas” show you exactly why disaster movies suck so bad. They also show you why you’ve been lying to yourself. Review.

aNewDomain — I’m watching “The Invention of Lying” right now. Ricky Gervais is pretty funny. I know that’s not one of the films in the headline here. But it’s relevant. I promise.

See, in “The Invention of Lying,” Gervais’ character lives in a world where people only say things they believe to be true. Because nobody has ever lied, they have no defenses against lying. 

So when he invents lying, everybody believes anything he says.

The invention of lying why disaster movies suck

In one scene, our hero asks his barfly buddies what they would do if they could make the world what they want it to be. Of course, it all comes down to touching boobs and getting rich. He eventually finds those answers unsatisfying. Wouldn’t you?  I actually would. I’m a middle-aged fat man. I actually have boobs, and the novelty of touching them wears off faster than you’d think. 

As for riches, money doesn’t make you any happier once your elementary needs are met, surveys show. But that’s not what I’m getting at here.

What I want to know is: If you could tell any lie and people would believe it, what would you lie about?   

I couldn’t think of any lie I’d want people to believe for this exercise.

But I can think of a lot of truths I need them to believe.

We’ll get back to this topic in a minute. We still have more bad movies to review.

why disaster movies suck end of the worldThe Worst Movie I Won’t See

“Volcano” is the worst movie I’ve ever seen, and it is the only movie I’ve ever paid for at the theater but didn’t stay to watch all the way through. I walked out of it, thinking: Keep the eight bucks, I can’t take any more of this. 

I think I split when the old lady died but they saved the dog at least.

Here I’m referring to a type of plot formula that’s so overdone and so insipid that you just can’t take it anymore.

Disaster movies in general are like that.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 8.58.18 PMLike disaster films. Floods, fires, perfect storms. 

And that brings me to another sucky disaster film I’m supposed to review today, a film called “San Andreas.”

Every now and then I go out and see a movie I might ordinarily wait for on cable or even just skip altogether. I do this so I can write about them. but I wouldn’t even see “San Andreas” if the movie people paid me. The trailer looked that bad.

Ever Hear The One About The World Ending? Thought So.

The worst disaster movie I can think of was “2012.” It wasn’t bad as in cinematically terrible bad. It was bad as in exploitative. This disaster of a disaster movie ended up netting $770 billion.

Now this film was built on a lie about the Mayans and a prediction they never made about the world ending in 2012. Not so and no one of any sense ever believes prophesies, anyway. But that didnwhy disaster movies suck‘t stop that one lie from supporting 100s of books on the topic. The whole dumb idea generated billions in profits, dozens of television shows and a whole new genre of “reality” TV in the Doomsday Preppers category.

Why do we keep believing such stories about the world ending? If it wasn’t the 2012 prediction, it was the Y2K bug. Remember that debacle? Ah, and there’s Ebola. Bird flu. I bet you believed one of those a little. But why?

We keep believing the world is ending because we can’t admit to ourselves that it’s true. The world really is on its last legs.

People just deny it, though, but can’t deny it implicitly. So they set up this kind of a straw man.

And that’s what I’d say if people would believe anything from me. I wouldn’t tell them another lie. I’d tell them about the truth of the Earth dying due to climate change, right now, amidst human-caused mass extinction.

Money goes a long way toward explaining some of the truth-lie-disaster movie disconnects, by the way.

Go back to those billions from “2012” for a second. Now, the Mayans never believed in apocalypse; and the Mayans were not the victims of one. (They’re still around, people. It’s just the empire that’s dead!) Everyone more or less actually knew this. But too many people pretended to buy in anyway. 

Money is a convincer. Someone spent a lot of money trying to get everyone to buy the Mayan junk. And there are plenty of other someones who are spending even more disrupting the dissemination of the truth. 

Thank You For Not Smoking …

You know, I had a political science teacher in college once who made me read a book called Thank You For Smoking. The protagonist in that story worked for the tobacco lobby and he used every rhetorical device in the world to shed doubt on the idea that smoking causes cancer. 

And the more he kept people smoking? The richer he got. Turns out the guy was part of a club that jokingly called itself the Merchants of Death.

Well, now there is a book and a movie called “Merchants of Doubt.” It totally echoes this premise. “Merchants of Doubt” details the ways lobbyists use every conceivable rhetorical device to introduce doubt into settled science. 

Like man-made global warming. They do it because they are getting rich doing it, and the people who really profit – the ones who pay the lobbyists and publicists – really, really profit.

Oil and coal. Repeat.

So, if there were any one thing I could tell you that you would believe, my choice, it’s that you don’t need a disaster movie.  We’re living in the middle of one. 

And if you gave a crap, we could still maybe – just maybe – do something about it.

For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.

First image: Livhambrett.com – All Rights Reserved. 

Third image: Wired – All Rights Reserved.

Image four: PointOfGeeks.com – All Rights Reserved.

Cover image credit: B Escorial 94v” by Real Biblioteca de San Lorenzo. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

About the author

Jason Dias

Jason Dias, PsyD is an existential psychotherapist who breathes words. He’s a senior columnist at aNewDomain.