"It's Too Easy Being Green" (Originally Published, 10.22.07)
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 Moveon.org 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-indomitable 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.