Arts & Life, Features

‘Bad environmentalists’ attempt green humor

A new alternative in green thinking is vulgar, absurd and sexual. More individuals are loosening up to challenge remarks of environmentalists being stern, gloomy hypocrites.

Bad environmentalism is a relaxed, comical approach that informs the public of the damage that it creates on the environment.

“These artists and activists are very self-aware in addition to being humorous,” California State University, Fullerton professor Nicole Seymour said of so-called “bad environmentalists.” “They don’t take anything seriously, including themselves.”

The CSUF professor lectured at Long Beach State’s Anatol Center Thursday to give attendees more insight into the message behind her new book, “Bad Environmentalism: Irony and Irreverence in the Ecological Age.”

“It seems we need environmentalism, yet there’s something deeply wrong with … the more prominent, mainstream strain of it,” Seymour said. Sarcastically, she joked “but everyone hates environmentalists! They’re gloomy-and-doomy killjoys that make us feel guilty.”

Examples of bad environmentalism include material from stand-up comic Simon Amstell, 1941s, ecosexuals and the 2008 series Green Porno.

These works are ‘bad’ from a mainstream environmentalist standpoint, and they embrace irony and absurdity “to remind us of the ironies and absurdities surrounding environmental crisis,” Seymour said.

Green Porno uses a collection of short, comical skits based on different man-made ecological disasters. The skits usually use fake scenery, ironic tone of voice and sexual displays to touch on its pro-environmental messages.

“By pointedly not even trying for naturalness, Green Porno indirectly asks us to reflect on how much effort [traditional] nature and wildlife programming typically puts into looking effortless, or ‘natural,’” Seymour said.

Seymour referred to how conventional nature documentaries use a set of characteristics to paint a picture of wildlife that is more strict in detail. These characteristics include the usual male voiceover narration, the film’s authoritarian scientific views and a narrative style that focuses on an individual member of a species.

Seymour quoted a further observation from media scholar Richard Kilborn about how these documentaries carry “a discreet silence … regarding how certain shots may have been obtained and what criteria were employed in the assembling of particular sequences.”

“Green Porno defies many of these classic nature and wildlife programming conventions, thereby reflecting critically upon them,” Seymour said.

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