Violent Climate Change Film Lands 10:10 Campaign in Trouble (Video)


Image credit: 10:10 Campaign

At times it's seemed like the 10:10 Campaign has got the whole of Britain cutting its carbon. From football teams to corporations to schools, individuals and organizations have committed to 10% CO2 cuts in just one year. Even the new UK Government pledged to cut its own emissions 10% in 2010. But 10:10 hasn't been free of controversy—most notably facing accusations of eco-snobbery for turning down an airport wanting to cut its emissions. Now 10:10 has caused a stir again, releasing and then promptly withdrawing a film in which school children, corporate workers and even a famous footballer are blown up for not taking part in cutting their emissions. So what's up? Is this a clever use of dark and self-deprecating humor to capture attention and hit the headlines, or a disastrous, inappropriate and violent own-goal for the environmental movement?

Warning: The post below shows the original film being discussed. It contains scenes which some people clearly find very offensive. Not suitable for children. According to The Guardian, the 10:10 campaign short film No Pressure—written by Four Weddings and a Funeral screenwriter Richard Curtis—was intended to be an edgy and attention-grabbing piece that would put climate change back in the headlines. It has certainly done that—but the question is whether it will alienate more people than it will engage.

Featuring film star Gillian Anderson, England footballer Peter Crouch, and music from Radiohead, the film was shot by a 40-strong professional film crew led by director Dougal Wilson—in other words, this was clearly a major undertaking for the campaign. With those kind of resources being directed at this piece, it seems strange to think that the campaign would be unaware that there may be some controversy—in fact many folks have suggested that releasing then withdrawing the film may have been the intention all along.

The plot—which involves school kids, office workers and soccer stars unwilling to join the campaign being blown up by their peers—is undoubtedly a provocative one. Even the reaction to the movie by Fanny Armstrong, 10:10 founder and director of the Age of Stupid, was clearly meant to provoke a reaction:

"What to do with those people, who are together threatening everybody's existence on this planet? Clearly we don't really think they should be blown up, that's just a joke for the mini-movie, but maybe a little amputating would be a good place to start?"

I have to say I found the whole thing kind of funny. And while some people will doubtless paint the film as one more example of zealous environmentalists advocating a "go green or else" approach—I actually took it as a self-parody of such a dictatorial approach. But then again, I have been known to have a pretty inappropriate sense of humor. Certainly some major funders to the campaign were less than amused, with charity Action Aid arguing that "the moment this film was seen it was clear it was inappropriate."

Even many of my fellow TreeHuggers, while not exactly shocked by the film, were unimpressed. Reactions like "one big meh", "pretty poor", and "a bit lame" were commonplace in our internal discussions. And there was definitely a general agreement that for a campaign that is seeking to unify a broad swathe of the public, this was an unlikely and probably counterproductive way to do it.

I'd love to know what our readers think. No pressure.

Warning: Once again, this film contains images which many viewers may find offensive.


More on the 10:10 Climate Change Campaign
Climate Campaign Turns Down Airport: Eco-snobbery or Drawing the Line?
The 10:10 Campaign: Is the Whole of Britain Cutting Its Carbon?
UK Conservatives Pledge 10% CO2 Cuts in 12 Months

Tags: Activism | Global Climate Change | United Kingdom

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