I haven’t been very kind to Greenpeace in the past, mainly because their campaigns lack humour and they come across as a bit self righteous. Well, I am happy to say that their latest campaign targeting Volkswagen – The Dark Side – is a little more relaxed. And is themed on Star Wars. And no one climbs anything.
Not that it is immediately obvious how they came to settle on the Star Wars treatment? I suspect their campaign team or the agency they commissioned to make the ad just happens to be full of 40-something guys with lightsaber fetishes. Not that I would know about that…hmmm. Now we just need to wait and see if Lucas Films will sue.
Additional: So, I am told that Volkswagen ran an ad campaign with some kid dressed up as Darth Vader, thus the Star Wars link. I guess they didn’t run that one in Nepal…
Regular readers will know we have featured the work of James Morgan here a couple of times this year. That is partly because his work is so compelling but also because he shows how photography and social awareness can work so well together without being images of doom & gloom. Fans of James’ work will be pleased to know that there will be several opportunities to view it soon, the only catch is you have to be in London in the coming days.
29 April – Screening of short film ‘People of the Coral Triangle‘ at Somerset House (evening).
4 May onwards – Photographic exhibition at the Royal Geographic Society (Travel Photographer of the Year).
11-24 May – Photographic exhibition at the Hot Shoe Gallery, Farringdon.
‘Earth Hour‘ always seems to be riven with a deep irony here in Nepal as most of the time we don’t have any electricity to turn the lights on anyway, let alone be able to symbolically turn them off. This video combines inspiring U2-eque music with global village images to try and persuade us that turning our lights off for one hour at the same time on one day a year is a deeply important social movement. But beyond the feel good factor does it do more harm than good?
Those who have electricity the majority of the time are the world’s minority, and are likely to be the main participants. They undoubtedly live in the places that are most wasteful. Shutting down the neon skyline in Hong Kong may look dramatic but in the end those lights burn for the other 8759 hours in the year and I see little move to change this type of ‘conspicuous consumption’.
The trouble with making people feel good about symbolic actions is that it is a diversion from substantive, and often more difficult, lifestyle choices, and old school campaigning for governmental policy change (boring!). WWF, who organise ‘Earth Hour’ are obviously aware of this as the strap line for 2011 is ‘This Hour, Go Beyond the Hour’. But are individual actions enough? After all making sure you turn you lights out when you’re not in the room does little to influence the resource efficiency of manufacturers and the sustainable production of electricity by your government. Don’t we need a sea change in the way we source power and how efficiently we use it? Not to mention the amount we consume? You could argue that Earth Hour is a call for this change to those who can make it. But the feel good factor of switching the lights off by those in rich countries feels a little, well, bourgeois. It is easily ignored (as there is not directed advocacy) and can even be joined in by those who could make a difference (city governors) without having to do anything of substance.
Too cynical? Maybe. But if you are sitting in your home where you only get electricity a couple of hours a day, the rich turning their lights of smacks of ‘slactivism’.
Tuna isn’t very cuddly and tastes good so how to stop people buying so much of it that it becomes extinct? Well, the answer is below. Will it work? It reminds me of the, in my opinion, terrible ad Greenpeace did about palm oil where some bloke eats a Kit Kat that is made of orang-utan fingers and blood goes everywhere (i.e. palm oil plantations destroy ape habitat). Felt like a bunch of 16 year olds had been let loose in the ad agency. Pretty disgusting and unsophisticated. This is admittedly better but I feel that people just will not equate what they are doing (i.e. making tuna extinct) with images of dead pandas (which they are not killing). Pandas are cute and tuna not, but I feel it would have been better to go with an intellectual argument rather than emotional in this instant because in the end ‘tuna ain’t cute’. Hopefully, I am wrong and it is certainly worth a try.
To see the full horror go to UFUNK.
When I first saw this set of photos by Stanley Greene for Noor I felt some affinity as they deal with the challenge of securing electricity in poor communities. At this time of year Nepal is in its darkest days (literally) of ‘load shedding’ – or more accurately – power cuts. The cuts last 14 hours per day at the moment, but will undoubtedly go up to 16 or 18 hrs before the monsoon arrives to power the river-fed hydro projects. In 1996, I spent 4 months in a village here that was yet to be connected to the grid – thus no refrigeration or electric light (have you ever tried reading by kerosene lamp?). Solar would work here but most community projects look to micro-hydro due to initial installation costs.
Projects like those shown here run by Greenpeace are not going to address the state’s failure to keep up with the power demand of the country. The resulting economic impact of such a huge short fall of electricity, or for that matter the slow pace in connecting remote communities outside major urban centres (or informal settlements within) will not be dented by solar power running a few lamps or computers. However, for the communities they may make all the difference in being able to study or keeping produce fresh for retail. The solar lamp scheme pictured by Greene – where members of the Kibera Community Youth Programme (KCYP) were trained in assembling solar powered lamps is the type of initiative Greenpeace should be spending its time promoting (rather than its boys-with-toys adventure activism nonsense).
Now, lets hope there is enough power for me to watch England vs. India in the Cricket World Cup this afternoon…
Ed Kashi does great visual story telling. With his work ‘Oil & Conflict in the Niger Delta‘ he not only told a compelling story but got together with OSI and Revenue Watch to put his images to targeted use. This time round he turns his lens to the legacy of Agent Orange in Viet Nam.
In ‘The Leaves Keep Falling‘ we see the lives of two families impacted by the use of Agent Orange (a chemical defoliant) by the US military during its war in Viet Nam. It is touching, sad and heart warming in equal measure. Personally, I would have ditched the sound track as it is too obvious, and there was no need to have the girl crying at the end – the point had been made. But small points in what is a fantastic piece.
Rather than climbing up stuff Qiu Bo went out and took some pics of the pollution caused by the textile industry in China (which probably includes the jeans your wearing).That’s for Greenpeace by the way.
Groupon (a company that uses group buying to acquire discounts on consumer purchases) has caused offence to some with the ad it aired during the Super Bowl on 6 Feb.
This is not the first time the company has touched a few nerves. This one on whales didn’t go down too well either.
The ads target those rather cheesy celebrity driven charity commercials that NGOs are want to make, but probably tread to close to trivialising the causes they initially appear to be supporting.
Far from being heartless corporate bastards Groupon originated from a pledge bank initiative called The Point. Obviously, there wasn’t much money in that so they ended up selling group discount coupons. The company also gives money to Greenpeace and the Tibet Fund, which doesn’t excuse poor humour, but suggests they are not totally without a conscience.
Looks like Greenpeace were able to see the funny side though;
“It was a pretty tongue-in-cheek message about over-the-top celebrity cause advertising, which is what the sponsors of the commercial, Groupon, were going for,” Greenpeace said in a message posted under the video ad.
Regular readers will know by now I am not overly impressed with Greenpeace’s frankly rather tired activism (or at least their countless videos of them hanging off stuff). Well, early in 2011 they have surpassed themselves with this, possible the most boring, not to mention bewildering campaigning video I have ever seen.
OK, I know they have a fetish with hanging banners from high things but if I were giving my hard earned pay to them I would be a bit peeved at this ‘boys and their toys’ activism. What exactly is happening here? Big balloon flies over what looks like desert with a sign on it. End. I am sure there must have been more to it than this. Are they flying over the Koch Brothers ‘secret’ meeting venue? Who know. From the road the airship looks tiny. Were they expecting the drivers to read what was written on the side? Or was this aimed at the Koch Brothers? Surely they knew they were having a meeting already?
Not far from where I am sat there are a some excellent NGOs who could produce very interesting and informative videos with the money it took to make this (including the air ship). Me things INGOs have become self perpetuating bloated beasts with too much money for their own good and need to be rationalised. Don’t give them your money, give it to small local NGOs in developing countries, they need it more.