On M. Night Shymalan's "The Happening" and James Lovelock's "The Revenge of Gaia"

First, a confession: I’m no great fan of M. Night Shymalan’s films. Some of my students think him a “genius” but that seems a bit giddy: The Sixth Sense (1999)  and Signs (2002) are watchable and clever in moments, but The Lady in the Water (2006) was beyond stupid. So I put off watching The Happening (2008) until curiosity got the best of me. It reminded me of a book I’ve mentioned here before, James Lovelock’s The Revenge of Gaia (2006), which is an interesting read, frustrating and contradictory in its own right, but insightful. Lovelock argues that the affects of Global Warming will be like a fever for the planet, and that the super-organism of Gaia will heat up to eliminate and expel humans as a kind of sickness.
He also makes the crucial point that his is not a consciousness at work, or a conscious action, but one of the complexity of life, of its synergy and interconnectedness. The Happening seems to be making a similar point, although clumsily adding a conscious decision on the part of plants to eliminate humans. It’s hard to say exactly, since he couches every answer to the mystery as a theory, but it’s strongly implied. It’s worth watching for the unintentionally laughable dialogue, most of it coming from Mark Wahlberg, who has actually made some good movies, so I blame the director, not the actor: “No, what?” he cried. After hearing about a terrorist attack in Central Park, he says, “Central Park? That’s odd.” And there are others.
As a way to cleanse my video brain, I just had to watch The Big Lebowski (1998) this morning, one of my favorite films ever. Or as The Dude tells Jesus, “Well, yeah, like, that’s your opinion, man.”

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