The Eco-Hypocrites of Beverly Hills


Via Refinery29; From using oil-baron money on eco-causes to setting off on a gas-guzzling vacation the day after giving a speech about the dangers of climate change, celebrities are rarely backing their claims of “environmental action” with quantifiable action.

It’s the 2022 Oscars. Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi are performing their musical number from “Don’t Look Up”— a film about a comet headed towards Earth, and politicians’ attempts to distract citizens from their almost-certain doom while astronomers desperately attempt to mobilize the public and have the comet intercepted. The whole film is an extremely thinly-veiled allusion to climate change.  

“Listen to the goddamn, qualified, scientists,” Grande implores. A cheer erupts from the star-studded audience, but it’s unclear what these celebrities are applauding— the message, or their own benevolence for spreading it. This is becoming an all-too-familiar occurrence in today’s age; more and more celebrities have become advocates for pressing issues, and what better to advocate for than the imminent threat of climate change? 

The phenomenon of celebrities standing up for matters of public concern is a new one; in fact, until the mid 2010s, many celebrities actively avoided revealing any of their political views. Those that did often saw their career plummet; the backlash that The Dixie Chicks received after expressing their disapproval for the Allied invasion of Iraq became a warning to celebrities for decades to come. Now, however, someone in the public eye who refuses to stand up for prevalent political, social, and environmental issues risks being seen as “out-of-touch”. Therefore, a new brand of celebrity has been born—the advocate. Unfortunately, the activism that such celebrities engage in is almost as harmful as their silence— especially in the case of such a capricious and dangerous topic as climate change.

Leonardo Dicaprio is one of the many celebrities gaining prominence as an activist. Recently, his speeches about climate change earned him the title of “UN Messenger for peace”. He also starred in “Don’t Look Up”, the aforementioned movie about society’s general ignorance towards climate change related issues. Since the film’s release, Dicaprio has been very outspoken— reminding people about the “ten-year timer,” the amount of time before the ramifications of the climate crisis are truly irrevocable, telling viewers to ensure that they understand the real message behind the movie. This would be all fine and dandy if these speeches weren’t interspersed with Dicaprio flying to Jeff Bezos’s superyacht on his private jet— effectively using the two most ecologically-taxing means of travel. Another example is Matt Damon, whose film, “Promised Land,” supposedly explored the dangers of the oil industry. Of course, the movie was produced with Image Media Abu Dhabi, an organization owned by the United Arab Emirates, which exports one of the highest dollar values of oil. 

The reason that this brand of advocacy is so dangerous is because of how loosely celebrities follow their own message—it’s hard to learn from a teacher who barely knows their own lessons. The average Hollywood A-listers, with their party yachts and private jets, contribute far more to climate change than the average citizen does. Yet, it is the middle and lower classes who are constantly bombarded with messages to “reduce”—take shorter showers, use more public transport, do whatever it takes and STOP GLOBAL WARMING. The way that celebrities have been praised for “speaking up”, without enacting any sort of action to substantiate the messages on their part, enables them to continue their own extravagant lifestyle and not practice what they preach. This corrupts the message in the first place: it is no longer born out of our desperation to resolve the climate issue before things get out of hand, but a tool for celebrities to use for “woke points”. At the end of the day, their climate change advocacy is just an extension of all the other PR that they do, because the actual consequences of the issue will never be a reality for them.