As a huge fan of Jack Dawson, I am one of many Titanic fans who have been waiting for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar winning moment. His act to speak out on climate change at the 88th annual Academy Awards was much appreciated by people from all over the world. I agree with our friend’s post on “How Celebrities Help Save the World”. The role of celebrities is very important to influence people in many ways, from how they live to what they believe (good or bad).
Now how effective is the celebrity fame can influence the population? Do people really care who or what celebrities endorse?
Interestingly, according to research done for US, UK and Australia published in the Global Environmental Change journal in 2013, images of identifiable people (politician, business leader, scientist, celebrity and member of the British Royal Family) made participants in this study feel quite strongly that climate change was unimportant.
It makes logical sense when an actress’ endorsement can increase sales of cosmetics because people want to look flawlessly pretty all the time like her. But it could be tricky when using celebrity on the spotlight to stand up for climate change. That could provoke backlash if they present to the public occasionally for political campaign without really living in a carbon efficient lifestyle. I do not have specific suggestion but involving famous people for climate change advocacy events might need extra consideration and better preparation on the communication strategy. This includes finding the right momentum, defining the effectiveness, selecting the celebrity, and preparing the transcript. Meanwhile, the politic advocacy of climate change may need to be balancing out by engaging more locally resonant figures to raise awareness of climate change. Figures who gain trust because they are living with climate change.
How to make celebrities gain more impact in addressing the climate change thread? This might take sometime but some suggestions are first to consistently let the paparazzi record how “green” their personal lifestyle is. Second, take moments to speak out about the sustainability issues not only at politics or environmental events but anytime you got a chance to be on a spotlight, just like Leonardo at his Oscars speech. This should be an effective ways to be better remembered and reach out more audience and more credibility. Third, is to make a new trend of green Hollywood image beyond just celebrities. The man behind the scene; directors and screenwriters of all genres could be urged to add green touches to their creative process of a movie. The casts could be working in a Solar energy company. Ben Whishaw as Q could have created an electric super car for James Bond. Tony stark could have reconstructed his house and office tower as the coolest zero-energy building. Or a group of friends who use ride sharing application, or owning ride sharing.
The World Health Organization is aware of film’s ability to shape young minds that it has called for all films that feature smoking, including animated pictures, to be given adult ratings. We could create a green rating credentials for cinema based on the gentle green message addressed and low carbon emissions used in producing the film. We don’t need all films to be made as dramatic versions of environment theme, but we need 100% of them to tell stories in which sustainable lifestyle is just normal way the world works. What about us? We don’t need all of us to become an environment activist, but we might need to make sure we do small sustainable act everyday and think about green elements we could add in our daily job.