The Hollow Environmentalism of Leonardo DiCaprio


How do you explain this? Movie star Leonardo DiCaprio turns Chicken Little for the environment and makes the big movie to alert us all of pending ecological disaster. Its called the "11th Hour" and will be in theaters this August.  At the same time, however, his own industry (Hollywood) is using rain forest wood to make movie sets. Yet, big movie star turned eco-warrior doesn’t see that as a problem. I mean, he doesn’t mention it in his film. Nor does he ever talk about it.  So what gives?

I thought it over quite a bit and suddenly remembered this book I read a few years ago. It was called Wild Swans by Jung Chang and it was about the Chinese Cultural Revolution – you know that big thing where Mao Tse -Tung tried to do it his way. Well, during the course of this grand event, the crops began to fail and people were starving by the millions. But whenever Chairman Mao came to town, the starving villagers would gather what few garden items they could find from all the gardens in the area and then put everything in one field next to where Mao was going to pass. They did this to show Mao how well the revolution was going.

The Chinese artists of the day, being the clever people that they were, decided the villagers were not engaged in hypocrisy – but rather something else. They came up with a word to describe this phenomenon. I no longer remember that word but the meaning was "self deception while deceiving others."

Now think about it. Doesn’t that sound right when you think about DiCaprio and his movie? I mean, I don’t doubt the sincerity of his calling. But what else would explain him jumping in bed with Warner Brothers as his distributor? Forget about Warner Brothers as a huge consumer of rain forest wood. This is a company that would never consider helping the environment by showing DiCaprio’s film on the Internet instead of the movie theater that you have to drive to in your pollution machine. These "concerned" movie marketers wouldn’t think about going digital in theaters either. Instead they produce hundreds (if not thousands) of chemical intensive film prints that then need to be moved around by big fat UPS planes and trucks – all so you can learn the perils of human impact on the environment! How about free tickets to anyone who shows up at the theater on a Bicycle or electric car? No way Jose – shareholders won’t like that. We got profit targets. Flying DiCaprio to the Cannes Film Festival on a carbon belching jetliner to promote our important message was already more than we could afford.

Nope. DiCaprio and company are not hypocrites, but when it comes to really getting down to the nitty gritty of treading lightly on this earth, "Self Deception while deceiving others" seems to be the only explanation. All Hail Chairman DiCaprio!

For a quick look at some real environmentalists storming a ship filled with rain-forest wood headed for Hollywood, check out this video on Youtube.  

BILL DAY can be reached at: bill@smilingzebra.com

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