Image via screengrab.
Greenpeace often plays the extremist of the environmental movement- the organization with goals that we green-minded folks appreciate, but with methods, often of dubious legality, that can make us cringe. Their latest stunt is no exception. Greenpeace USA released a video this week attacking the tuna industry for unsustainable fishing practices. But while the cause is right, the video is violent and gross, without actually telling us why tuna fishing is so bad.
Watch the video after the jump.
The video portrays the tuna fishing industry, through its mascots, as crass, cannibalistic, depressed and cruel for sport. But that's not what's wrong with the industry- what's wrong is that its practices are unsustainable and cruel for profit.
Greenpeace lays out excellent arguments for acting against the tuna fishing industry: the use of fish aggregating devices and longlines that indiscriminately catch all sorts of animals, the lack of regulation of tuna fishing in international waters, and the practices of large nations that rob smaller ones of valuable income in the form of tuna fishing.
Except for the brief appearance of a net full of marine life caught along with the tuna (which the the cackling mermaid offers to eat), those very legitimate criticisms aren't featured. Instead, the video aims for sensationalism and the gross factor.
The "Itchy & Scratchy" Approach: Violence Sells
Violence is not out of place in a campaign against a violent industry. But the blood and gore featured here don't depict overfishing or factory farming, they depict a mermaid casually throwing a trident into a co-worker's face. Greenpeace presents the cartoon as a criticism of the tuna fishing industry, but it only criticizes mean mermaids.
And while it seems that the video would at least be legal- more so, say, than attacking a tuna fishing boat (and getting harpooned in the process) - that may not be the case. Bumble Bee, Starkist and Chicken of the Sea, whose mascots are featured in the video, are taking Greenpeace to court for defamation and trademark infringement.
I fully support Greenpeace's call to buy tuna only from companies that support the PNA's sustainable fishing practices, but it was the group's sensible arguments that convinced me, not the terrible video.
On the other hand, would I have ever read those arguments if I hand't been drawn in by the advertised violence of the cartoon?
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More controversial work from Greenpeace:
Evidently, Barbie Digs Deforestation: Greenpeace Exposes Mattel for Using Unsustainable Packaging
Greenpeace Declares Human Existence is 'Under Threat,' Climate Change to Blame
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