Just as my last post was a somewhat different take on the civic issue of environmental protection, this post will further look into the various aspects of taking care of our world. While the scientific components of this concept are very important, the influence that today’s culture has on nature is surprisingly relevant. Specifically, many celebrities today have taken action, no matter how small, to raise awareness and show the importance of our environment. Whether it is through their work, charitable activities, or even through public statements, many famous individuals have taken to making their opinions known.
One of the less thought about ways of environmental protection advocacy is in the form of subtle mentioning. In other words, outright support is powerful, but just as powerful is a simple statement that speaks for itself. One can most often find an example of this in music and other art forms. For instance, the song “Don’t Panic,” which was released as a single by Coldplay in 2001, has an accompanying music video that projects an interesting idea about pollution and climate change.
The video begins with a sort of moving illustration of what one can assume is the water cycle. However, in the lower right hand corner, we can see a factory pumping waste into a lake that is then included as part of the cycle, and thus contaminates the water supply shown. While Chris, Johnny, Will, and Guy’s heads on illustrated bodies might be a bit “interesting,” I believe that the overarching theme of the video, and potentially the song as well, is that climate change and pollution can be harmful to us as the human race. Included in the song itself are lines such as “We live in a beautiful world,” closely followed by “All of us are done for,” and while these lyrics may be a bit overdramatic regarding the topic at hand, I do believe that they send an effective message. Yet, while Coldplay as a band (and especially Chris Martin as an individual) has openly supported various causes, such as free trade, environmental protection has never particularly been on that list. At the same time, Coldplay certainly projects their feelings and opinions into their work, so we can thus conclude that this particular piece is meant to send a message about the dangers of pollution and disrespect toward the environment.
In addition subtle messages in song and art, celebrity support of the environmental cause can most commonly be seen through charitable acts. Almost all (decent) celebrities either openly support a charity, or have formed their own charity; effectively using their fame and financial advantage to support certain causes. Many have taken up environmental protection as the issue that they openly support. For example, one such celebrity is Leonardo DiCaprio, whose “Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation” supports various environmental causes, including wildlife preservation and endangered animal protection. One of the most well-known projects that DiCaprio’s foundation has worked on and supported is the “Save Tigers Now Campaign.” This project which is supported by the joint efforts of the World Wildlife Fund as well as DiCaprio, has a goal to double the population of wild tigers, which has dropped to a dangerously low number of 3,200, by the year 2022. Not only has DiCaprio pumped millions of dollars into
this cause, he has also openly been an ambassador for the campaign. DiCaprio had featured in several video messages and appeared at various benefits, not only for the tiger campaign, for but other causes supported by his foundation as well. So clearly, with or without an Oscar (hang in there, Leo), DiCaprio’s fame is certainly being put to good use.
Furthermore, another important method of environmental support is using fame to support an important cause. Celebrities are followed constantly, with their personal life and their own opinions being tattooed on our eyes day after day. Fortunately, some celebrities have found a way to use their excessive fame for good. With everything that famous individuals say being spread far and wide through the depths of the internet, the statements that these people make are extremely influential, regardless of the topic. However, some of these celebrities, such as Ellen Degeneres, have made statements about their belief in the environment. These individuals understand the power that their words can have, and thus use this concept to their advantage. Ellen is certainly one of these examples, as she is quoted saying, “If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” While this quote generally supports a lot of different causes on Ellen’s agenda, the mention of the environment in this statement provides a powerful tool. Seeing as Ellen connects the concept of destroying our earth’s natural land and animals with a lack of love, she certainly makes an important connection between ethics and the environment. Due to the effectiveness of this one simple statement, we can clearly see how Ellen, in some small way, has contributed to environmental protection.
Overall, advocacy for our environment can come in all different types and forms, including music, charity, and public advocacy. The above mentioned people and groups have used their notoriety to advance the field of environmental protection in various ways. Therefore, while the concept of environmental protection is often considered a scientific concern, one must not underestimate the power of pop culture to influence important civic issues. As is the case with any popular issue during any time period, with the right people in the correct positions, words and examples can work wonders; which is exactly what is happening due to the influence of these popular cultural icons.