Blade Runner 2049 Orange Las Vegas

Columbia Pictures/YouTube

The smoky sky on the east coast looked just like an apocalyptic movie–and here are the memes to prove it

You're not the only one.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Posted on Jun 8, 2023

For the past few days, parts of the U.S. have been engulfed in so much hazy smoke because of wildfires in Canada that it’s affected the air quality and turned the sky a bright orange.

It’s not the first time it’s occurred—a similar thing played out on the west coast, which deals with the effects of wildfires frequently, in 2020—but for those unused to seeing the sky transform into something that both apocalyptic and harmful (people are being advised to stay indoors, and mask up if they have to go out), it’s a lot. For many, it feels like a shot that came straight out of a movie. And, as the memes showcase as we make bleak jokes and use humor to deflect fear, there are a lot of movies to draw from.

A viral TikTok of someone blasting Hans Zimmer’s Dune score already took it to another immersive level. But people found other ways to compare the obscured New York City skyline to the harsh and unforgiving backdrop of Dune’s desert planet Arrakis, particularly as Wednesday went on and the sky became brighter.

Really, how different was New York from a shot from the Dune: Part Two trailer?

The most popular comparison was Blade Runner 2049, another Denis Villeneuve movie featuring a saturated orange sky. This time, Ryan Gosling’s character is the one walking through Las Vegas when he encounters that uninhabitable atmosphere.

“It’s literally worse than Blade Runner,” Lauren McKenzie tweeted.

Really. The sky changed so much that several movies fit the bill depending on when you looked up.

But movies weren’t the only target comparisons. A poorly timed (or perfectly timed, depending on where you fall) photo advertising Diablo IV went so viral that Blizzard’s EVP of Corporate Affairs and CCO Lulu Cheng Meservey tweeted put out a statement (while being in on the joke) distancing the Blizzard from the wildfires.

“I would like to clarify that Blizzard has no affiliation or partnership with the wildfires in Canada. In fact we are firmly against wildfires and condemn them in the strongest terms,” she wrote.

But for many, Legend of Zelda is also on the brain. With the added coincidence of there being a blood moon in New York on Tuesday, several people made jokes about the Blood Moon that sporadically shows up in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, a time of night when Calamity Ganon gains enough power to resurrect fallen creatures for Link to face off against. Key elements of the Blood Moon involve a red moon and an orange hue in the sky despite the late hour.

The wave of smoke has started traveling south to Maryland and Washington, D.C., giving us ample opportunity to do this all over again.

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*First Published: Jun 8, 2023, 1:27 pm CDT