102 Wild and Scenic Film Festival
To begin: the view of nature as something that is separate or before humans is deeply ideological and romanticized.
Tim Morton’s book, The Ecological Thought, clarifies this concept. Our species has, through all our advancements—advancements that stem from evolution recognizable in in all other species—brought us to that conclusion of nature as some “weird other”. Morton says in the introduction to his piece that we’ve estranged ourselves and lead ourselves to believe that we’ve killed nature, creating a “ghost of ‘Nature,’ a brand new entity dressed up like a relic from a past age, haunted in the modernity in which it was born.”
Through are ideology of nature as a relic, we begin to romanticize it. We look to the trees in the woods, the untouched hills, the sauntering deer under the canopy, as something to be glorified and mesmerizing—something to be framed. And we do indeed frame it. That framing places nature vulnerable to capitalism. Everyone profits of the fascination of a picturesque wilderness, whether it be monetarily or emotionally. Look at L.L. Bean, Patagonia, or The North Face’s means of income as an example. Then, think of yourself: do you ever go outdoors to feel better? Catch a breath of fresh air?
This current understanding of “nature” or “wilderness” is heavily interpellated onto people through, as Morton calls, “bambified” versions of that so called “other.”
Recently the Office of Environmental Sustainability at Plymouth State held an event at the Flying Monkey titled the Wild and Scenic Film Festival. An event which perpetuated the “others” bambification. It was two hours of clips that were to promote the beauty of what we see as “nature” or “wilderness” in hopes to recover that “separate entity” in a time where a well-proven Climate Change is rapidly encroaching. Even by looking at the events title we can already see the developed idea of separation (wild) and beauty (scenic).
The videos showed to the audience were of people living through sustainable means, working in various sustainable fields of science, or enacting the romanticized ideology of nature through enjoying and making picturesque that “other”—nature. It showed us bright and optimistic images of the world.
The first clip we saw was of a woman who journeyed out into Moab National Park and collected soundbites with objects she found there: breaking twigs, dropping rocks, birds chirping, the wind through grass. She said that this is to show people the beauty of the world. She hopes that, by romanticizing it to others, it will convince them to rescue it. Whereas she may not be wrong, it is still painting a pretty picture that people want to see.
Yet nature is not this purely beautiful place. There is a dark ecology at play in the world. Violent storms, tidal waves, angler fish tricking prey in the deep depths, grizzly bears eating attacking humans, poisonous snakes. This is the real nature, the one that we choose to ignore. Why, even when presented with these scary subjects, do we only remember nature as pure beauty?
The world—the nature (the real one, the one that includes us)—is not as picturesque as we make it out to be. Events such as this make it to be a magical realm of our own fantasy. It is as Morton says we want it to be, a “mirror image” where the “grass is always greener on the other side.” Even in the events clip about biomimicry, the idea that we should copy more what other creatures do, there is to be found a large contradiction. They only promote the good things they found of animals in nature, things such as how some animals bodies reflect light through their exterior structures to produce colors, as opposed to creating highly concentrated elements which are often volatile like we people do. Though many animals, such as the Spiny Spider or Angler Fish, use those exterior structure colors to lure in a tasty meal.
Nature is not as pretty as you want it to be, and it does not exclude you.