There’s a song by the short-lived and under appreciated British rock band The Jeevas, fronted by Kula Shaker singer Crispian Mills, called How Much do You Suck and it goes a little bit like this:
How much do you have to suck
To lose a popularity contest to Saddam Hussein
You’d have to be a sleaze
An oil-drilling fiend
How much do you suck?
Simple, effective, gets its point across, no prizes for guessing which ex President of America that one’s about. Sadly not all propaganda is quite as successful in communicating a clear message. Take the recent No Pressure video from the 10:10 campaign which has been causing quite a stirthis weekend for all the wrong reasons, for example.
It’s hard not to wonder how any right minded eco activist in the 10:10 campaign could have thought a film by Richard Curtis was a good idea in the first place, let alone a film about blowing kids up for expressing apathy over the issue of climate change. I suppose it could have been worse. It could have starred Hugh Grant.
There is a degree to which I think the anti-science loonies in the climate change deniers camp need to develop a bit of a sense of humour. South Park makes socio-political points in much more controversial ways every week. This video was clearly designed to tap into that kind of humour to make the point that softy-softly approaches to getting people to bring down their carbon emissions just won’t work anymore, that there has to be pressure because the millions of people who are having their lives destroyed by the effects of climate change are already feeling the pressure themselves.
But was that message successful? Clearly not if all the headlines that have followed have been about teachers blowing up kids, the most charitable finding fault with the judgement and humour of the campaign, the least holding it up as an example of the extreme and dangerous misanthropy of the ‘eco fascists’ and ‘climate tyrants’. Those holding the latter opinion, much like those who believe in fairies, Father Christmas or intelligent design, are not likely to be swayed by a more reasonable argument, or a more nuanced piece of propaganda. But if the wider public watching this video come away without knowing quite what the environmentalists were trying to say beyond ‘agree with us or we’ll blow you up’, then clearly this video is a bit of an own goal.
In other news, which has caused much less of a stir, Osama bin Laden has come out calling for action against climate change. Going by some of his past stunts, not least the demolition of a couple of rather famous buildings in downtown Manhettan nearly a decade ago, bin Laden is not exactly known for his overwhelming popularity, the subtlety of his attempts to get his point across, or the effectiveness of his public relations exercises. Which makes one wonder. How much do you have to suck to lose a popularity contest with Osama bin Laden?