How sincere is celebrity PDG? This is a question posed by Gina Piccalo in an L.A. Times article analyzing the recent attacks on Hollywood’s greenest celebrities.
Celebrity media lynching is nothing new. But what still shocks me is the fact that the revelations revealed by these press onslaughts are still even remotely shocking.
Celebrities may be less green behind closed doors than they want us to believe? What’s surprising about that? What do these people do for a living? They perform — without a guarantee (or even a demand) of sincerity. If Dave Matthews were to sing a song about a girl named Mildred who was eaten alive by clams, would we be shocked to find out it didn’t really happen? No. If Cameron Diaz played an axe murderer in a movie, would we fear for our lives while passing her on the street? Of course not.
So, what’s shocking about Barbra Streisand urging us to be better environmentalists and then using 4 trillion gallons of fossil fuel while touring the country?
I’m not condoning hypocrisy — I’m a big fan of practicing what you preach. But what you have to remember is: Actors can cry on cue. Singers can wail a joyful song when they’re depressed. And celebrities can pretend to be passionate about things that don’t really matter to them. That’s their job as performers. Of course, we hope they’re as titillated filming that love scene as we are watching it, but we don’t expect or demand it. Unless we know them personally, what we see of their lives is what they show us. And when there’s no film or CD to promote, their lives are their art.
This is not cynicism talking. I’m not saying every love scene is void of attraction, or that no sad songs are heartfelt. I’m just saying that when Tom Cruise professes his love by jumping on a couch, it should occur to you that there might be at least a tinge of manipulation going on.
The same goes for Hollywood’s greenest. Does Adrian Grenier really have recycled denim insulation in his house? I certainly hope so. But if he doesn’t, shouldn’t he still get snaps for discussing it and possibly inspiring others to recycle denim? I think so.
Our society loves to bring people down — especially those who have more money than we do. It’s a sad fact, but it’s true. Hypothetical scenario: When Leonardo DiCaprio encourages the public to buy a hybrid, the price for a photograph of him getting in or out of a non-hybrid goes sky high. And whoever shoots that picture feels he’s discovered the Holy Grail. The picture is printed, Leonardo’s called an “eco-hypocrite” and what’s the result? The photographer makes money, the magazine that prints it makes money, Señor DiCaprio looks like a big fat liar, and we’ve forgotten all about the fact that hybrid cars are better for the environment than non-hybrids. We’re all co-conspirators here.
So, my answer to Piccalo’s questions “Does one cross-country ride in a private jet cancel out the vegetarianism and the bamboo floors? Is the only answer total asceticism?” is a resounding “absolutely not”.
Asceticism sounds like PC-ism to me. And that makes me want to book the first private jet going the other direction. Okay, maybe the first commercial airline going the other direction. Or, on second thought, I could ride my bike in the opposite direction … or walk … You get my point, which is — be as green as you can be and don’t worry about thy neighbor.
Originally published on G Living, 2007