Climate Change – Hollywood & Leonardo DiCaprio Continue To Take A Stance
Celebrities, Filmmakers, Entertainment Leaders Speak Up
Max Boykoff and Beth Osnes' work on comedy and climate change referenced in Hollywood Insider
Climate change is without any doubt one of the most serious yet polarizing topics in society today. Every party, organization, industry, or any other coalition of people seem to have a stance on this issue. Often, the initial position is simply choosing whether to accept or deny its existence. Hollywood, as one of the dominant cultural industries of America, joins these other groups in taking a particular stance on global warming. Despite Hollywood not being run by a certain collection of individuals, a vast majority of workers in the film industry (or at least those with the most public presence) clearly side towards the progressive side on most social issues. It’s no surprise that Hollywood actively works towards the recognition of climate change, especially with some of the most famous actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio speaking out about global warming and activism in his Oscar’s acceptance speech for The Revenant.
How is Hollywood actively trying to resolve climatechange issues?
With the presence of social media, it becomes substantially easier for film industry stars to speak directly to their followers about anything they wish, which of course includes a routine social message or charitable act. Leonardo DiCaprio, while speaking at the United Nations has maintained, “None of this is rhetoric, and none of it is hysteria. It is fact. The scientific community knows it, Industry and governments know it, even the United States military knows it. The chief of the US Navy’s Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, recently said that climate change is our single greatest security threat”, and he continues, “this is not a partisan debate; it is a human one. Clean air and water, and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is not a question of politics. It is our moral obligation – if, admittedly, a daunting one. We only get one planet. Humankind must become accountable on a massive scale for the wanton destruction of our collective home. Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species. This is the most urgent of times, and the most urgent of messages.”
For many of these figures of cultural influence, however, the greatest exposure and impact they can have is often what films they work in, and if an actor, who they portray. In this sense of social engagement, the dialogue about climate change is both infrequent and unsatisfactory.
In an interview with The New York Times, actor and producer Fisher Stevens says that movies about climate change are “not a very sexy subject, and people just don’t want to deal with it.” Stevens’ comments echo truth not just in the film industry but throughout American cultural and social beliefs. A Yale survey studyfound that while many Americans believe that climate change is a real issue, a majority of Americans do not believe that they will be personally affected. Simply put, climate change is seen as an issue, but it is not pervasive enough in the minds of Americans to warrant widespread social activity.
Besides documentaries like Before The Flood (which are not what most movie watchers view regularly), there are only a handful of movies which tackle climate change as the major conflict. However, these films (The Day After Tomorrow, Geostorm) are dismissed as summer blockbuster disaster films and are often criticized for their scientific inaccuracies. Some will also say that this drastic view of the consequences of climate change is not the correct way to inspire change, as people aren’t typically inspired by images of hopelessness and death and destruction.
Pritan Ambroase, editor-in-chief of Hollywood Insider, who is also a humanitarian and founder of philanthropic organization Humans Of Our World, comments on the importance of taking mass action towards halting and reversing the damage humans have done to earth by stating, “Semantics matter. I prefer the term climate crisis or let’s rephrase climate change completely and turn it to Destructive Rapid Climate Change. Opponents of global warming/climate crisis issue, have often used that term climate change to say that it is inevitable and part of the natural cycle – so let’s take that term away from them. Because destructive rapid climate change is man-made and there is nothing natural about it. The harmful actions of certain humans, be it companies, corporations, government, etc is hurting the climate and in turn our world/earth. Look at the vast swathes of the Amazonian rainforest that has been cut down – harming animals and wildlife in the immediate time and also the climate in the near future as trees are vital – after all, it provides something humans may have heard of and need called oxygen. Go to any of the highly populated cities, and there is a stark and terrifying issue with breathing, over time that level of bad air quality does affect the climate. Burning of fossil fuels does harm the earth’s atmosphere. Hollywood and its key people are doing a lot and there’s always more to be done in the name of bettering our home known as earth. But it needs to go further than that. We need the masses, the corporations, companies, politicians, businesspeople, religious folk, medical professionals, engineers, governments, construction companies, etc., etc., to all agree that humans’ actions must improve towards conserving nature and earth. To the naysayers that think that climate crisis is not an issue, you might not be far-sighted enough but I am sure you can see the immediate damage human actions are causing to nature, by polluting the earth in many ways, be it physical, air, trash, liquid, ecological, etc – so go by that and support this movement to halt destructive rapid climate change – as whether you believe it to be a problem or not, you are also living on this ONE ship called earth, so those people like Leonardo DiCaprio that you are opposing – are trying to save you and your ONE and ONLY home as well.”
Ambroase and his team have broken the mould to re-brand Hollywood Insider and he has personally re-worded the mission statement to include “better our world” and “education and philanthropy”. The mission statement now states “Hollywood Insider focuses on substance and meaningful entertainment, so as to utilize media as a tool to unite and better our world, by combining entertainment, education and philanthropy, while being against gossip and scandal.”
Exploring new avenues for bringing climate change to the center of the screen
A 2018 study by University of Colorado researchers found that discussing climate change through the lens of comedy and humor can bring about more interactive discussion than a straight-faced presentation or foreboding warning. Many actors are already putting in their work on their own time using their resources to reach to a wide fan base and speak to them about pollution, deforestation, endangered species, and other results of climate change. Lil Dicky’s “Earth” is definitely the kind of content that Hollywood Insider thinks of as “substance and meaningful entertainment”, which features a multitude of stars who all speak up, or sing-up, asking the masses to love our earth, take action to better our earth and halt the actions adding to the rapid destructive climate change and harm our earth. It was released on Earth Day which was on 22nd April 2019.
However, it seems that the United States government merely acknowledges this issue as a problem that will just pass by. But as we see with each passing year, the ramifications of our negligence only become worse and more present.
As one of the most dominant and influential social and cultural institutions of the country, if not the global community, Hollywood is in the unique position of having the power to be a force for change and bring greater awareness to certain issues as already proven. But the work does not end here. Hollywood MUST continue to explore every avenue and invent more avenues of education and take greater risks in starting a discussion that is both welcoming and prudent.