Earth Gets Its Groove Back…I Wish
A reader asked for the link to this piece originally written for Delta Sky Magazine in honor of Earth Day. I’m just posting it instead.
Full disclosure: I am not a professional magazine writer. Magazine writers have to do fact-checks and protect their sources and say things like “full disclosure”. I’m an Oracle, as per the famous Oracle at Delphi who answered questions no one knew the answer to, like “Why is there a setting on the iron for Permanent Press?” Of course, the Delphic Oracle was inhaling the fumes from a natural gas deposit in her cave whereas all I – the Delta Oracle – have got in the trance-inducing department is the Shopping Channel. Still, give me a question like “What’s the deal with Earth Day?” and before you know it, I’m having an oracular vision of the relationship between Earth and Mankind
My vision takes the form of a romantic comedy: Girl Meets Boy; Girl Loses Boy; Girl Gets Back at Boy. (Full disclosure: Before I was an oracle, I was a film and television writer.)
GIRL MEETS BOY
FADE IN on Earth orbiting the sun, spewing volcanic ash, oozing primordial slime. At this point, she’s around 13.5 billion years old (for evolutionists), three thousand years old (for creationists) or 21 years old (for dogs). The point is, she’s a woman in her prime. I know there’s some word play to be had here with “prime” and “primordial,” but I’m an Oracle, not Larry Gelbart.
Now we come to the “cute meet” that every romantic comedy requires. Man falls out of a tree right on top of her.
Of course, Earth doesn’t recognize Man as Prince Charming; she thinks he’s a complete Neanderthal. But over time, he evolves into Homo Sapiens, smart man. Smart enough to worship Earth. Literally. He showers her with gifts, like in “Pretty Woman”, where Richard Gere buys Julia Roberts a diamond necklace, except Man’s idea of a present is a sheep with a freshly slit throat. Still, it’s the thought that counts.
CUT TO the second thing every romantic comedy needs, the montage: Earth and Man riding a carousel; gazing into a fire; taking long walks on the beach – oh, wait, the earth is the beach. The point is, Earth returns Man’s love. She showers him with gifts: her mineral deposits, oil deposits, rich topsoil… all without a pre-nup. That’s how green Earth is. She’s like Vivien Leigh in “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone."
(Full disclosure: I’ve never seen “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” but according to my manicurist, Kay, Warren Beatty takes Vivien Leigh for everything she’s got and abandons her. Talk about depressing. I’d have stuck my fingers in my ears except the polish was still wet.
On the other hand – the one Kay’s putting lotion on – that scenario sounds disturbingly familiar, like the Girl Loses Boy part of the movie.)
GIRL LOSES BOY
Flash forward 50,000 years. Man has evolved from Homo Sapiens (Man Who Knows Things) to Homo Fabricans (Man Who Makes Things) to Homo Economicus (Michael Douglas in “Wall Street”). As CEO of Planet Earth, Man now demands ever higher levels of productivity, ever higher yields. Maybe this part of the movie should be called “Girl Does All the Work in the Relationship”. Plus, he’s become very controlling. He monitors her behavior, points out every (San Andreas) fault, makes mountains out of molehills. Well, actually, he makes molehills out of mountains what with pit-mining and everything, but basically, Earth’s in an abusive relationship.
Worse for her, she’s menopausal. That’s what global warming really is: hot flashes. But does Man care? No. In fact, since his first clumsy telescope, Man has been looking to see what else is out there. Maybe another planet, a younger one. It’s the old story: Man wants his space. So where do we go from here?
(Full disclosure: The reason I stopped being a movie and television writer to become an Oracle is I could never think of a third act – at least not one that made anybody happy.)
Man does leave Earth. At first she is desolate. You can tell because she’s eating Rocky Road ice cream straight from the container. But out from under Man’s thumb, Earth begins to flourish. Once arid regions become green. Rain forests re-emerge. All the animals Man had wiped off her face come back. Earth’s like Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”: she regains her youth. But even more, she regains her self.
So the third act of this movie isn’t “Girl Gets Boy” or even “Girl Gets Back at Boy” but “Earth Gets Her Mojo Back.”
It’s not an ending that would make everyone happy. Executives wouldn’t like it. (“You call this a romantic comedy??”) And it sure doesn’t look good for Man.
But it would make Earth happy.
And isn’t that what we should be thinking about on Earth Day?