J500 Media and the Environment

Celebrities: The Answer to Climate Change? by lindsaycr

In today’s day and age of celebrity obsession, it is hard to dismiss the power of celebrities because they are simply everywhere. Whether we are standing in line at the grocery store checkout or chatting around the water cooler at work, the hot celebrity topics seem to be constantly shoved in our faces. Not that I mind. I enjoy reading my US Weekly and watching Entertainment Tonight, but even I have to admit that sometimes it is just too much.

For example, I work for a morning news show in Kansas City. For about a month, every newscast we had included a Britney Spears story.

The newscast would transition from the latest local news story to Britney’s crazy antics. It was obvious that the anchors were also getting tired of having to read Britney stories day after day. However, there is a way to use Britney’s image in a positive way. Since it seems that celebrities are everywhere, why not use their popularity for good? And for that matter, why not use their popularity to help the environment?

Many people know that Hollywood has jumped onto the environmental bandwagon in some respect. For example, movie star Leonardo DiCaprio is a huge environmental activist who is a well-known friend and ally of Al Gore.

While many celebrities are seen driving hybrid cars and promoting the green movement in their own ways, why not get the celebrities more organized and use their popularity to the fullest extent. For example, find every green product out there and sign up willing celebs to be the spokespeople for it.

This sounds like a good idea initially. However, it could potentially backfire. For example, what if a celebrity that you absolutely hated became the rep for a new green product? Would you automatically turn against that product? Or what if another celebrity became involved in a highly publicized scandal? Would people be turned away from green products and issues because the celebs who represent those products are morally compromised? Or would people even care that much about their personal lives in the first place?



3 Comments so far
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Lindsay – I think having celebrities be spokespersons for green issues is a pretty risky venture. Just look at all the vitriol directed at celebrities for speaking out politically. Some people still won’t take “An Inconvenient Truth” seriously because Al Gore is involved. I think celebrity influence is helpful in moderation, but it’s more important to convince each other of the importance of an issue rather than wait on celebrity influence to guide the conversation and get us to act.


Comment by vincemeserko

I agree with what you said. It seems like a lot of people who are anti Al Gore refused to watch the movie just because of who he is. I have some friends who despise him and made fun of me for seeing “An Inconvenient Truth.” On the other hand, what if there are some Al Gore fans out there who saw the movie just because he was in it? It would be interesting to see how green issues advocated by celebs compared to those that are not. I wonder what the outcome would be?

Comment by lindsaycr

Good question, Lindsay. This is an interesting take on celebs and the planet from the Environmental Economics blog:

“Celebrity Endorsements and Bundled Goods

Suppose a famous singer comes out of retirement to hold benefit concerts for global warming. Does the fact that a person–for the sake of the story I’ll call the person ‘John’–is willing to pay $200 (a wild guess at ticket prices to such an event) for a ticket mean that ‘hypothetical’ John is willing to pay $200 for the right to see the singer AND stop global warming, or that the difference between the John’s willingness to pay to see the singer and the willingness to accept to put up with global warming babble is at least $200, or that John’s willingness to pay to stop global warming is at least $200 more than the monetized disutility of having to put up with music he doesn’t like? Well, hypothetical John’s about to get his chance…

From Reuters:

Singer Barbra Streisand announced her first U.S. tour in over a decade on Thursday, saying that she planned to play 20 concerts in October and November to raise money for charitable causes.

“The increasingly urgent need for private citizen support to combat dangerous climate change, along with education and health issues was the prime reason I decided to tour again,” Streisand said in a statement announcing the tour.

“This will allow me to direct funds and awareness to causes that I care deeply about,” she said.

The statement said the proceeds from the tour would be distributed through The Streisand Foundation, whose Web site says it supports causes such as human rights, breast cancer support, the environment and public policy studies.

This is the problem with using purchases of bundled goods to try to decipher preferences for one of the components of the bundle. I’m sure that global warming supporters, er global warming advocates, er I mean people who want to stop global warming will use 20 sell outs as evidence that people are willing to pay a lot to stop global warming. But all we can really conclude is that people are willing to pay a lot for the inseparable package of seeing Babs sing and contributing to the charity. Any other conclusion is beyond the scope of the observed outcome. Enjoy the concert John.”


Comment by Simran Sethi

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