Social scientist on impact of “Into the Storm” on public, weather community

Hoover, Ala. (WHNT)– Many of us living in the Tennessee Valley do not need a movie to show us how extreme mother nature can be. Damage following a strong tornado is often described as being “out of a movie” and on August 8, 2014, it will be displayed in theaters across the country.

Into the Storm is a weather-thriller movie set in a fictional Oklahoma town and documents how people in the town try to survive several killer tornadoes. The movie is rated PG-13.

Laura Myers serves as the Deputy Director of the Center For Advanced Public Safety at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She studies people’s perception of weather and how the react to high-impact weather events. Myers says for those that have been through traumatic weather events, seeing the movie trailer beforehand is a good idea.

“I’ve had several people from Tuscaloosa do that. I’ve asked them to look at the trailer to see what they think and it bothers them. It actually bothers them. But they’re still interested in seeing the movie,” says Myers.

Myers says a lot of people are affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with weather events and that many people will likely find that Into the Storm aggravates their PTSD.

On the other hand, “exposure to [the movie] could help the PTSD. It’s not a bad thing to go see it,” Myers offers.

Many of the scenes in Into the Storm are over-dramatized. Myers said this could be a problem because it could give people a false sense of what could really happen in an actual tornado or severe weather event. “A lot of these things are just a little bit over the line. They’re just a little bit too much,” comments Myers.

The true power of mother nature and the fact that we cannot control it may be what draws so many of us to severe weather and movies about it. Myers also describes a “hero capacity”– the ability to survive an event like a tornado and helping others survive too– as another reason people are fascinated by something that can be so dangerous.

You may find some of the material in the movie extremely sensitive. A highlight of the movie is a chaotic scene of a school being destroyed– an image that will hit too close to home for some in the Tennessee Valley or for those who remember the aftermath of seven children dying at Plaza Towers Elementary school in Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013.

I asked Myers if she thought this subject matter was appropriate or “too soon.” She says while a “sensitive” subject, having schools at the center of a movie like this may bring needed attention to how safe schools really are. This could be a great opportunity to review the severe weather safety plan with your child’s school.

This movie could also serve as a great opportunity to get people interested in weather. “Anytime we can showcase the world of meteorology and what meteorologists do [is a good thing],” says Myers.

 

 

4 comments

  • Nuclear Mike

    How many of us have seen a combat veteran “hit the deck” with a backfire or sudden loud noise?

    Hollywood makes their money selling theater seats & cable fees…providing any real solutions for people’s mental well being to the experiences of terrible events whether weather, war, house fire or accidents is NOT part of their profit goal.

    If the Wizard of Oz has not “Hollywood” educated all of us by now then no new digital re-make of a tornado will.

    Best possible answer…do NOT spend your money seeing this contrived movie or you will believe sharks fall from the sky to eat you!!!

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