Monday, October 22, 2007

It's Too Easy Being Green

Like most Americans, there's nothing I love more than a completely ineffectual and purely symbolic gesture -- particularly when it comes to dealing with an honest-to-God crisis.

People sticking yellow ribbons all over their SUVs; the dipshit Republicans in Congress pushing to censure the dipshit liberals in for insulting General David Petraeus; the laughable burlesque of holding a "funeral" for the dreaded "N-word;" All of this and more just serves to remind us that when decisive action is required, we as a nation can always be counted on to immediately rise to our feet, wave our arms around wildly and parrot a catch-phrase or two, then sit the hell back down and watch American Idol.

The latest nail in the coffin of our once-intransigent spirit of diligence and sacrifice: all week, CNN is changing the color of its onscreen logo from the usual trademark red, to an all-too-familiar eco-friendly green.

To borrow a line from Bill Maher, it's literally the least they could do.

Actually, the reason for the change isn't simply because Larry King has been less willing as of late to donate blood from his personal bank in Transylvania to color the logo; it's part of a big promotional push by CNN -- a wholly-owned subsidiary of Time Warner, may I remind you -- for its documentary Planet in Peril. (Someday I'm going to find the person who first convinced a news manager that silly alliteration makes for good TV -- then I'm going to punch him in the throat.)

Planet in Peril is hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta of Harold and Kumar go to White Castle fame, and the Ambiguously Gay Duo, Anderson Cooper and Jeff Corwin.

Despite its apocalyptically alarmist title, I have no doubt that the show will in fact be a well-crafted and thought-provoking investigation, and I certainly have no issue with the subject with which it deals.

The problem is that, as with few other pop culture zeitgeists that the mass media has greedily perpetuated in the name of ad sales, an important issue is now in danger of being pushed across the fine line separating the need for public awareness from an inevitable oversaturation. The word "Green" has already become the one thing it never should have been allowed to: a Madison Avenue tagline. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised, in fact, if come late December, the word begins popping up on those snotty lists of terms which have been so overused during the past 12 months that the authors decree them officially "banned" in the coming year. (Unfortunately, it'll probably be right beside "Africa.")

I consider myself a serious proponent of environmental issues -- I have been for quite some time in fact -- and even I'm sick of hearing everyone from the most wasteful of mega-conglomerates to the idiot up the street with the 900-foot-tall wind turbine sticking out of his ass flaunt their "eco-bling" and boastfully promote how green they've gone.

Once again, I'm not saying the issue's not important.

I'm saying that it's too important for the media to treat it as if it were any other fad, thereby creating what will surely be an eventual backlash.

There's too much at stake.


Calitri said...

Ah, the joyfully world of promotion and self promotion illustrated by the media pushing its fad slop. Most should find their thinly veiled attempts to cover covert agendas insulting, but I'm not sure people pay that much attention.

I wouldn't worry too much about the environment, Chez. The world will do what it does, and humanity will do what it does and we'll all meet somewhere in the middle with hilarious consequences. Actual change is always reactionary, never proactive. The implosion of our ecosystem should, at very least, be a good fireworks show.

However, when the world does end, I'll die a happy man because this morning I finally convinced the wife to switch from the local CBS morning news to ABC. No more of Don Scott's hulking head, no more Bubala or Gibala (though Sharon is pretty cute), no more I-invented-the-bald-head-with-glasses look Ron Matz and his ridiculous "Manic Mondays" and most importantly no more of the crown prince of evil himself, Marty Bass. The environment be damn, I've already escaped my hell.

Paul said...

Is Sanjay going to give the planet a physical or something? Is that why he's involved? Did he figure he had better find something to do after better bitch-slapped by Michael Moore? I am going to go get a "Save the PLanet" bumper sticker...and put it on the first Hummer I see!

micheal said...

i bet kermit is PISSED

keri marion said...

First I would like to say I really enjoy your articles.

Secondly I thought the same thing when I saw CNN's "Planet in Peril" promo... it's almost as bad as "War on Terror" or "Slit my wrists - I've had enough!"

When I saw the advertisement for the series, the only thing I could think about was how CNN is bandwagoning on a stale idea. The earth is and always has been "in peril"

Only now that Al Gore has been awarded the peace prize for his work has CNN taken any notice.

As if it didn't exist before.

Lead by example. Drive less. Eat local. Avoid barcodes. Recycle. These are the ways we reduce impact on the earth, but each of us has to do our part.

Watching inflammatory television with big-budget advertising is, uh... not the way to go.


Anonymous said...

Wow...four entries in one day.

It's like a Chez explosion.

Don't keep it all so bottled up, kid.

winged unicorn said... to stop ease global warming? I know! dump BF and get someone local-no more 160 mile round trips 3-4 times a week. told him that this morning, that we were PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE for the hole in the ozone layer growing, and had to do SOMETHING to stop the madness. he was not thrilled at my suggestion. (sigh) one thing i miss about nyc: mass transit. subways, buses, amtrak, LIRR, metro-north. the rest of the USA really does not understand how AMAZING a semi-decent mass transit system is for everyone, how it changes your life. it gives you time to sleep, read, meditate, limited cell/internet access. and it equalizes all. you are as likely to be sitting next to the chairperson of Lehman Bros as to a homeless gal.

Anonymous said...

To borrow a line from George Carlin; "The Earth is fine. The Earth has survived a few billion years. The PEOPLE are fucked. The Earth is fine."

Thomas said...

Anyone want to make mention of the fact that this special is sponsored by ConocoPhillips?

Anyone care to discuss how fucked up that is?

Al said...

"Planet in Peril is hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta of Harold and Kumar go to White Castle fame"

/still laughing

Swami Dearest said...

Just another throw-away issue, ultimately going the way of FAMILY VALUES, or so it would seem if you watch television.

Anonymous said...

Ah, America, the land where we can turn anything into a product to be bought, a service to be used, an idea to be promoted.

VOTAR said...

When I saw this the other morning, my first thought was "I hope that's just some temporary silliness they're doing to make the logo all spooky for Halloween." The I noticed it was below the "Planet in Peril" banner. The color change is just temporary, yes?

Doesn't anyone in CNN's art department see movies like Se7en or even Joe vs. The Volcano? Nevermind that the screen is slowly filling up with logos all over the place, the color green is psychologically nauseating, it is almost never used to suggest something positive or wholesome except maybe when vegetables are involved. Yet another reason I can't watch CNN anymore... and now (judging from the cacophony of background noise) that MSNBC has apparently moved their soundstage into the middle of a shopping mall or perhaps a bus station, my morning news watching routine is totally fucked.

Anonymous said...

I like the green...until Lou Dobbs, et, al come on.

hey tell Anderson he looked hot "working" in the jungle