Industry NewsOpinion

Oscar-Bait ‘Downsizing’ Fears Climate Change, Overpopulation

Hollywood bitterly clings to some topics more than others.

Consider these recent examples:

  • Watergate? We’ve got yet another film on the subject coming soon.
  • The Iraq War? The flow of movies stemming from that conflict continued in 2017.
  • The Hollywood Blacklist? Bryan Cranston earned an Oscar nomination for 2015’s “Trumbo,” and don’t be surprised if more movies follow.

Which brings us to climate change. This season already promises one climate change-themed tale -- the long-awaited sequel to 1982’s “Blade Runner.”

Turns out “Blade Runner 2049” won’t be alone. Director Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing” follows an ordinary couple (Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig) who undergo a shrinking process to streamline their lives.

Downsizing Official Teaser Trailer #1 (2017) Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz Sci-Fi Movie HD

Here’s Payne sharing the inspiration behind his latest film with Deadline.com.

My co-writer Jim Taylor and his brother had often mused about how much better our lives would be if we were able to shrink, how much bigger our houses could be, how much cheaper food would be, and so forth. Years later, I came back and said, “What if we put that in the context of being a solution to overpopulation and climate change?” He agreed, and the story began to unfold, and we thought it was a pretty good premise for a lot of reasons.

The early “Downsizing reviews suggest those themes don’t dominate the narrative a la “The Day After Tomorrow.” That 2004 film remains Hollywood’s loudest global warming screed.

Those twin fears serve as “Downsizing’s” catalyst all the same.

The climate change debate remains white hot, and it certainly won’t be settled here. What about overpopulation?

RELATED: 9 Films Obsessed with Climate Change

The notorious “Population Bomb” theory helped stoke anxiety around our crowded future. Yet that ’60s era alarmism proved false. That even The New York Times admitted such proved shocking as the cause never caught fire within conservative circles.

Current population trends also fail to back up “Downsizing’s” premise. In fact, a 2015 Pew Research study revealed the issue still exists, but primarily outside western culture.

Growth is expected to occur mostly in Africa, and abate in the Americas, Europe and parts of Asia, especially as families in more-developed nations have fewer children than they used to have. In many countries in the latter regions, the total fertility rate has dropped below the “replacement rate” of about 2.1 lifetime births per woman. The total fertility rate in the U.S., for example, fell to 1.86 in 2013.

So showcasing two middle-class Americans shrinking for a better tomorrow makes less sense than it should.

Those statistics didn’t stop the recent Netflix original “What Happened to Monday.” The sci-fi feature also imagined a future where overpopulation led to a draconian “one child” procreation policy.

None of this means Hollywood will abandon overpopulation as a dystopian topic. In fact, the industry may just be warming up to the theme with “Downsizing.”

Show More

31 Comments

  1. Well, the Left knows which population they want to shrink. Just like they see themselves as the protagonists in the Purge movies.

    Ideology makes for weak stories.

  2. They don’t even acknowledge the source of their ideas. In the late 60s and early 70s there was a deluge of crappy SF novels about shrinking people as a solution to all out problems. I used to come across them in used book stores all the time. Michael Crichton knew it was such a lousy premise that his venture into that area was left unfinished until his death, handed to a co-author and published a few years ago.

    1. In fairness, some great novels were also made out of environmental concerns, such as John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up, Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! (like a lot of Harrison’s work, it’s sledgehammer-subtle but is still better than the movie it’s based on) and Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves. Asimov was actually beating the Population Bomb drum all the way back in the Fifties and by the Seventies it became almost an obsession with him.

      1. Difference is, The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun actually worked as mysteries and were fun to read. Asimov was a near-psychotic statist atheist, but he couldn’t NOT entertain.

  3. They don’t call it “Hollyweird” for nothing. Hollywood people seem to think that they’re special, so they can’t stand anything ordinary or normal, so it becomes a freak show, and they revel in their adoration of abnormality.

  4. Here’s a question, In Europe and America the birthrate is below replacement. That should be a good thing, right? So why does the west let in a flood of people from outside? I have a good idea why.

    1. Especially a flood of people that breed like rats. No designer baby when they turn 39 for them. Start cranking out babies at 14 and don’t quit until they can’t do it anymore.

      1. In Salinas, CA it’s common to see 3 generations of women walking down the street knocked up. Know an OBI/GYN that hasn’t seen a vacation in years, he agrees.

      2. What’s worse, those babies will consume the world’s precious and limited resources at much higher Western rates than if they’d be born in the Third World. Their carbon footprint alone will turn Earth into another Venus. True environmentalists should support an immediate end to mass immigration to the West – for Gaia!

    2. Because socialism is a Ponzi scheme… when you have four workers supporting one retiree, things can be coped with, but when it’s three workers or less per retiree, then things collapse, which is why they need more working bodies. “The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.” — Dame M. Thatcher, former British PM

      The reason is that illegals usually don’t pay taxes (other than sales tax), since they likely don’t have any reportable income, nor owned property, and it is extremely unlikely that they will be running a business that pays corporate rates, claims to the contrary by talking heads on TV not standing up to the actual data. They do, much more frequently, apply for government-provided (read: “taxpayer funded” ) assistance programs, such as welfare, foodstamps/TANF, etc. etc., up to and including free school lunch programs and free medical care (since neither schools nor hospitals are allowed to ask about citizenship status before providing goods and services that will have to be paid for by SOMEONE, sooner or later). So the “solution” of bringing in fresh bodies from outside (and then telling them, “Hey, we need you to work and pay taxes so we can give that money to these other people who were here before you showed up” ) isn’t actually solving anything, and the problem gets worse, as judges claim that governments have to spend taxpayer resources on people that shouldn’t even be here in the first place, elections to the contrary be damned.

      That which cannot go on forever… simply won’t.

  5. Libs crack me up if it’s G/W or over population. Yet they never make any attempt to do anything to themselves.
    They just tell us how to live or die

  6. My co-writer Jim Taylor and his brother had often mused about how much better our lives would be if we were able to shrink, how much bigger our houses could be, how much cheaper food would be, and so forth. Years later, I came back and said, “What if we put that in the context of being a solution to overpopulation and climate change?” He agreed, and the story began to unfold, and we thought it was a pretty good premise for a lot of reasons.

    And there you have the simplemindedness of Hollywood and environmentalists in one quote: houses would only be bigger and food cheaper so long as everyone else stayed big, and your income too; once everyone shrank, house sizes and food production would immediately shrink to match. And these are the kind of minds that denigrate Trump voters!

    1. Of course, if you were to shrink yourself while everyone else stays big, you will be crushed by the footsteps of a millennial whose eyes are glued to a smart phone and not paying attention to where he is walking.

  7. Will Matt Damon be downsizing his regular acting fee for this? The only overpopulation problem I can see is of dollars in the bank accounts of overpaid, preening, mediocre actors.

  8. Zero population growth in advanced Western societies has been around for well over a century. H. Stuart Hughes mentioned in his Contemporary Europe: a History that pre-WW1 French political & military leaders were concerned that their population had flat-lined while Germany still enjoyed a significant growth.

    The irony here is that the people most obsessed with overpopulation are generally those who think London, Paris, and New York are the greatest places to live, even though their population density outstrips that of most third-world countries.

  9. You have to look at where these morons live – an overpopulated pollution and crime ridden hellhole called California, where rich white people crap on poor minorities, and their personal industry is rife with sexism and molestation. They are too stupid to understand the rest of the world might be different.

  10. Which of Vonnegut’s novels kept mentioning that the Chinese had bred themselves to be tiny? In one scene the narrator, after meeting with a six inch tall Chinese characters, thought that his breakfast that morning would have fed an entire village in China.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button
Close