Monday, July 13, 2015

Celebrity Impact

So Harry Styles advises us to avoid SeaWorld if we care about dolphins, and everybody's talking about it.  This could just be the needle that broke the camel's back; many groups have been trying to stop the hunt of dolphins since The Cove first aired.  Or it could be, as I've said before, that some of our celebrities are like royalty of old, and we the peasants who will blindly follow their lead. Is there any single act that had more effect on LGBTQ rights than when Ellen came out on her sitcom? And I remember the first mention I heard of using condoms in an episode of Moonlighting. If Bruce Willis uses them, then maybe we could too.

To change our inequitable economic system and slow down climate change, it seems we need sitcom characters and boy bands to start taking an active interest. Remember when Rachel Green changed her hair and everybody ran out to get the same haircut? We need shows in which characters subtly mention recycling or composting even, where people decide not to take a trip because of the GHG created by air travel, where the cool character that everyone wants to sleep with gets to work on a bicycle. Imagine if, in 40-Year-Old Virgin, he had convinced everyone else to ride a bike instead of being convinced to grow up and learn to drive, the implicit message being: cars are for adults and bikes are for kids.

When Louie CK's character Pamela tossed out all his furniture because she thought he should get all new stuff, I was dumbfounded. He plays a single dad who's a comic who isn't insanely famous, so I was stress out about how his character could possibly afford new furniture, and I though he should have tossed Pamela for being crazy enough to do that. But he liked the idea - apparently this is what being a good couple is for people on TV. And no mention of any financial struggle was made. Imagine if they lived without any furniture for the rest of the season because that's how some people really live? Imagine showing a little bit of the fear that comes with an unstable income?

To change the behaviours of the masses, we need only to effectively change the behaviours of some TV characters. So our first step, then, will be to convince TV writers and producers that this is important.

This is a start.

4 comments:

  1. I'm starting to get the nagging feeling that it's all a dollar short and a day late, Marie. I don't think we have accurately gauged either the onset of climate change or our resilience to withstand the more severe impacts. In combination, those two realities set us up to be overtaken by events, utterly vulnerable, even defenceless.

    I live here on the wet coast in a belt of temperate rainforest and yet, we're apparently just days away from running out of water. A couple of months of the high-heat drought that crept up from the south is all it took. A winter that wasn't, no mountain snowpack, abnormally high temperatures and a spell of drought and we're brought to the edge. It always seems to be the same story - the more pristine the ecosystem, the more vulnerable it is to climate change impacts.

    In the interior, years of unusually warm (the "new normal") winters have unleashed a massive infestation of pine beetles whose numbers were once held in check by a week or two of intensely cold weather that is now a memory. Hundreds of thousands of acres of once verdant pine forests now lie dead, a rust colour that goes on for miles and miles, creating tinder for forest fires.

    On the island, nature used to operate like a well-oiled machine. One by one the gears have broken down. The wildlife, including the alpha predators, are in distress. Hard to imagine what awaits them when there's no salmon spawn this summer.

    Meanwhile our mainstream parties play politics as though we're still in the big hair 80s. Not one of them - Harper, Trudeau or Mulcair - is willing to accept the need to leave the highest-carbon fossil fuels in the ground. They all support the extractive economy paying lip service to climate change with vague mumbling about "carbon taxes" at some point, way after that ceases to matter.

    We need a total overhaul of our essential infrastructure, country-wide - roads, highways, bridges and overpasses, railways, the electric grid. Some can be rebuilt and reinforced, but much needs nothing less than replacement. If was all built for the Holocene. None of it was designed to meet the greater demands of our new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. This is a massive, Marshall Plan-scale undertaking, the sort of thing that would require a concerted effort for twenty, probably thirty years. And where are H.T.M. on that one? It doesn't even cross their lips.

    We think that C-51 is the worst thing that's ever happened to this country but something immeasurably worse, perhaps even existential, is going on and all heads are turned away from it.

    We're inundated with all this talk about how we have to get rid of Harper, must get rid of Harper. Sure, so why haven't we? He's the worst damned prime minister I've known in my lifetime - the most dishonest, the most manipulative, the most undemocratic - and our opposition parties have not only failed to topple him but they've hardly made a dent in him. The Libs (Conservative-Lites) and the New Dems (Latter Day Liberals) have, in the pursuit of self-interest, allowed our political spectrum to shrink and have abandoned vision as a quaint notion from the past. They're all neoliberal now. They're all market fundamentalists. It's become a sea of grey suits stuffed with wet cardboard. We're all told to vote against something and offered very little to inspire us, give us courage and hope, something to vote for.

    I'm thinking we're already probably out of time. That's the thing about tipping points. It's only after the fact that you'll realize you've crossed them and, even then, only reluctantly.

    I'm with Hedges on this. I don't think anything short of revolt stands a chance because it doesn't hinge on unseating the Harpers. You have to sweep away the Trudeaus and Mulcairs as well. So long as the engines of corporatism - neoliberalism and market fundamentalism - displace democracy in our Parliament, we're done.

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    1. We definitely need a revolt. Have you seen <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/pan-canada-energy-strategy-contains-little-action-on-climate-change/article25477300/>the premiers are going to fast-track the pipelines</a>? We have to wake people up and get them involved in order to spur them into action. I'm not lying down to die yet.

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  2. I just read the Globe article, Marie. They know the great majority of Canadians want effective action on climate change, including real cuts in GHG emissions, even as they scheme behind our backs to push the world's highest-carbon petroleum through pipelines and onto ships. As Andrew Nikiforuk has explained, this deception lies at the very heart of the petro-state in the age of neoliberalism. It makes no difference which party - Conservative, New Democrat or Liberal - they're all aligned squarely against our grandchildren and the generations that will follow them. I was dismayed by my country but kept telling myself it was just Harper's doing. Now we can't pretend any more. It's all of them. Bill Longstaff just posted a piece in which Rachel Notley is quoted as describing the Tar Sands as a "tremendous asset" and an "international showpiece." That's what it takes to go from dismay, to shame, to disgust.

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    1. I agree the major parties will all keep on this same path to hell. On the bus to the march, a few people were suggesting that they can't shut down the tar sands completely because of the economy - providing an excuse for the NDP gov's lack of dramatic change. They certainly CAN shut it down, but they won't because they're part of the same system as the other parties, and none of them are truly in charge of the game.

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