In the wake of the success of James Cameron’s paean to Gaia-worship, Avatar, the Hollywood heavyweight has been given an even bigger forum to spread his version of environmental dogma. It’s always ironic when a member of the jet-set wags a finger at the masses, warning us proles to clean up our acts and pursue “sustainable” lives. It would be fitting if some rich conservative fellow bought Tinsel Town’s iconic sign on the hill and added a few words, so that it would read: “Hollywood – Home of Hypocrisy.”
There are exceptions of course. Ed Begley, Jr. actually walks the walk and that seems to work for him. One can respect Begley’s commitment, even if it’s ultimately a pretty pointless exercise. For the most part though, green Hollywood is all about the “do as I say, not as I do” school of thought. Sure, they’ll throw a bone to the tree-huggers now and again, in the form of a nice donation to the right cause, or perhaps by appearing in a public-service ad. Leonardo DeCaprio hops on his bike to peddle around Manhattan, when he’s not hopping on a jet to ply his trade at some far-off location, and Cameron Diaz is proud to let the world know that she lets her waste products accumulate for a cycle or two before she finally flushes. Why the world needed to be informed of the latter, I do not know.
Back to James Cameron. The environmental activist recently said that it’s his duty to spread the green word and save a “dying planet.” How would James Cameron accomplish that? Well, it certainly wouldn’t involve economic growth or anything. Here’s what he told MSN in a recent interview:
“The solution to any one of these problems is interrelated to the solution to all of them, and it’s very simple: we have to stop population growth and we have to stop industrial growth. And this is not gonna happen. It’s so heretical to everybody trying to recover from a recession economy – ‘we have to stimulate growth!’ Well, yeah. Except that’s what’s gonna kill this planet. And until we get that through our skulls, all of the good causes and all of the fundraising and the little band-aids that we keep sticking over problems are not really going to make a difference.”
Got that? A recession might be bad for you, but it’s great for the planet. Imagine all the good that would come of a full-blown depression! If the analysts who fear that the out of control government spending and the unsustainable debt that the current administration is accumulating will lead to the collapse of the American economy are right, Barack Obama may go down in history as the man who saved the planet, at least in James Cameron’s world. Perhaps that’s the master plan. It makes as much sense as anything else.
Not that Cameron has much to worry about if the sort of economic upheaval he advocates actually occurs. When you live in a six bedroom, 8,300 square foot Malibu mansion that set you back a cool $3.5 million and you know people who are willing to front $500 million so you can make a flick featuring Smurfs on steroids, you’re pretty much good to go.
But then there’s hardly much that’s green about the industry that provides guys like Cameron with their lavish lifestyles to begin with. The film industry could serve as the poster child for an unsustainable, ultimately unproductive business model that contributes nothing substantive to either the planet or its populace. Has anyone ever measured the “carbon footprint” of a Hollywood flick? After you added in all of the transportation hits; the resources needed to feed, house and entertain the cast and crew; the energy needed to make, distribute and advertise a flick; and the energy expended by the public to get to theaters to view it, I suspect the results of such an analysis would be stunning. Hollywood is ultimately a parasite feeding on an economy that Cameron says is too darn big too begin with. Logically then, shouldn’t we cauterize the parasite before we start carving up the body?
Cameron’s arguments are clearly silly and hypocritical in the extreme. Avatar is one more example of the tired old “harmony with nature” and “noble savage” nonsense that sounds great in the abstract, but never survives any sort of in-depth scrutiny. In the absence of a green nirvana that does not exist and never has existed, environmental activists like Cameron try to create one out of whole cloth and the irony is that the only way they can bring their vision to life is to utilize the kind of modern technology and science that supposedly threatens the planet in the first place. You can’t film the environmentalist’s paradise that Cameron brought to the big screen on location, even with the aid of a time machine, because such a place does not, has not and will never exist.
But then, man has had to turn to technology to extol the wonders of nature many times before. Perhaps the most ironic example of that phenomenon is the “Tree of Life,” located at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The 14-story centerpiece of Disney’s Animal Kingdom could not be grown – no such tree actually exists – so it had to be built, using an old oil rig as its skeleton. It’s “leaves” are made of a high-tech plastic: polyvinylidine fluoride. So, if you want to highlight the wonders of nature and the need to turn away from our greedy, technologically dependent ways, there’s no better means of accomplishing that end than to utilize modern technology. That truism applies whether you’re a money-grubbing Hollywood heavyweight or whether you’re a greedy capitalist running a theme park. Sure, at one level, it might seem like you’re biting the hand that feeds you. But when you know what’s best for everybody else, you don’t lose much sleep worrying about little things like hypocrisy.