Movies Can Now Be Graded By ‘Climate Reality Check’ Test

Warner Bros./20th Century Studios
Warner Bros./20th Century Studios

Recently-released movies can now be graded on a new “Climate Reality Check” test, which will gauge on whether or not the film addressed the so-called “climate crisis.”

“There’s a new ‘Climate Reality Check’ test — these 3 Oscar-nominated features passed,” headlined the article by Chloe Veltman at NPR. According to Veltman, the new test offers something similar to the much-ballyhooed “Bechdel Test” by grading movies on purely ideological grounds; in this case, environmentalism. Only three Oscar-nominated movies released in 2023 met the criteria for either having themes or strong mentions of the so-called “climate crisis”: Barbie, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part I, and Nyad.

It’s because of this line that the pinkest and perkiest of summer blockbusters passed the new Climate Reality Check. It’s a new test, directed at writers, producers and other entertainment industry creatives, that aims to measure the presence of climate change on screen by evaluating all 31 feature films nominated for any Academy Award this year. Documentaries and shorts weren’t considered.

This simple new test was inspired by the famous Bechdel Test invented by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in the mid-1980s to measure the presence of women in movies and other forms of fiction. It was created by climate change storytelling consultancy Good Energy in collaboration with the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment at Colby College in Maine.

Good Energy CEO and founder Anna Jane Joyner described the test thusly: “The test is, does climate change exist in the world of your story? And if so, does a character know it?”

The movie must also be set on earth or take place in the present day or in the future. For instance, even though Killers of the Flower Moon addressed environmental concerns, it did not make the cut due to being a period piece. Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, associate professor of English and environmental studies at Colby College and Good Energy’s main collaborator on the Climate Reality Check, said the test does not account for movies that might address the topic subtly.

“It’s possible for some films to include positive climate actions, for example, people installing renewable energy in their homes or deciding to go vegetarian,” Schneider-Mayerson said. “This test doesn’t necessarily catch those actions unless they’re sort of more or less explicitly related to climate change.”

“It’s not going to be able to catch all of the different nuances of representing an issue as complicated as climate change,” Schneider-Mayerson added. “But we’re hoping that it’s a good start and that it’s something that people can apply.”

Paul Roland Bois directed the award-winning feature filmEXEMPLUM, which can be viewed for FREE on YouTube or Tubi. “Better than Killers of the Flower Moon,” wrote Mark Judge. “You haven’t seen a story like this before,” wrote Christian Toto. A high-quality, ad-free stream can also be purchased on Google Play or Vimeo on Demand. Follow him on Twitter @prolandfilms or Instagram @prolandfilms.


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