J500 Media and the Environment

Something on the menu for everyone by jseverin
February 12, 2008, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Society + Media

OK, I admit it. Although I’m probably the most pop-culture illiterate person on campus, I am easily tempted by a new issue of People Magazine. I have even been caught late at night watching the Daily 10 on E! I’m not proud of this, and I can’t say that I really care who was seen with who where wearing nothing but what, but the modern American seems to have some an inborn attraction to celebrity. So my initial reaction to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s call to sex up the environmental movement was “bring it on!”. If an NPR listening, Science Magazine reading graduate student like me can be so easily drawn to a pretty face and a flashy car, then I can’t be the only one. Why not sell the environmental movement with sex? It’s no secret that we’ve used sex to sell just about everything else.


And while I don’t think phone sex therapists campaigning to save the bonobo chimpanzee or selling biodiesel in the buck is quite what Arnold has in mind, I do agree that we need to tap into the mainstream and sell what we can while it’s hot. At the same time, I don’t believe that sexy sustainability is the only answer to our environmental woes, nor will it be the next major movement. There are plenty of people out there who are more culturally challenged than I and could care less who came to the Oscars in a Prius. And at the price we have to pay to mimic our celebrity idols, it may even promote the idea that environmentalism is only for the wealthy. Just as threatening, it could lead people to believe that environmentalism is just another trend. So I say, let’s sex it up, but keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with a little modesty either. – Jeff


3 Comments so far
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Jeff, he’s just like Us! (Only those of you who are pop culture literate will get the reference. . .) What you say about sexy drawing you in is very telling. It’s probably something we should dissect further to really understand what makes people respond to green. And the timing is also key. You have to get it while it’s hot and take it when you’re ready. What makes this the optimal time for green?

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

Good question – and what sparked the latest wave anyway? Was it just a perfect storm of Al Gore, Wal-Mart going green to save money and their reputation, and the Ideal Bite? (and as Dena pointed out, the occasional appearance by Simran Sethi on Oprah?) It seems like this new interest in going green suddenly erupted in the past couple years, and I was too excited about it to think about what was driving it. If any of you are new to green living, what inspired you?

– Jeff

Comment by jseverin

The link you posted about environmentalism as a trend caught my attention. American culture is driven by trends, but we’re not alone in that (see Japanese trend culture for just one example). You see/hear this everywhere, whether aimlessly fipping through an Elle “magazine” (kinda one giant advertising bundle of trends) as I did while waiting on someone yesterday, or, say, listening to an NPR warning not to buy into what is likely a beagle infatuation trend following the Westminster dog show (aye, my second dog reference a week). Americans love to buy and buy into what they think is “in,” but our attention spans are short. I’d like to think that any kind of environmental movement wouldn’t suffer the same predicted fate of beagles (the NPR article said lots of people will buy them, then dump them at shelters when they can’t handle the breed; everyone jumps on the bandwagon because it’s a trend then leaves it just as quickly) — that we could outlast the trendiness, if indeed trendy is the way to influence people.

Maybe we’re going about this all wrong, looking at sexing up environmentalism as the only panacea to cure environmental apathy. Sex and celebrities will work on some people, but not all.

Jen Humphrey

Comment by jenh

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