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Monday, June 18, 2012

io9 Rolls Eyes At Climate Change

The voracious geek-hipster maw demands environmentalists provide them richer and fresher images.

Why can't environmental catastrophe be more entertaining? You know, more like Cabin in the Woods? Images of drought, famine, fire, plague aren't worth a thousand words, but only four we are told, "Oh dear, not again." I know, right? Let's move on to the real slaughter, gun-toting neo-confederate Pentecostals wading through cities knee-deep in Greenhouse swamp would be sexier, don't you think? That would kick ass!

An image of the earth on fire held in a human hand "has spread across the internet like a weed" and presumably, like a weed, should be rooted out. A close reading of the image follows: "What is it saying? Something about the planet being on fire? And also held in the palm of your hand? Perhaps if you're holding the planet in the palm of your hand, and it's on fire, you should drop it? Or put it in some water? Maybe the point is that it's your responsibility to stop the planet burning? Oh, I don't know."

What terrible messages to convey at a time when denialism about catastrophic anthropogenic climate change is at a belligerent high in the nations contributing most to it. Hipster is having none of it. What is this earnest obvious crap? Ooh, so subtle! Geek-hipster is, like, totally cracking himself UP. After all, the destruction of the planet in order to coddle a handful of rich assholes who won't give up lifestyles that make them miserable while killing billions is, after all, really so subtle a problem when you think about it. Also: Don't think about it!

And sheesh! What's this now? An image of London undwerwater? Geek-hipster wants to knock on your forehead, hello? Anybody home? Everybody knows "the UK is basically rich enough to make sure this doesn't happen." Oh, really? Of course, this is io9 so geek-hipster probably expects Very Serious futurological nanobot swarms and and mile wide orbiting space mirrors to solve all this for huge profits while the rest of us keep on dancing. Anyway, this is just "a bad scenario in a future that is beyond our lifetimes." Apres nous le deluge, suckers!

"Sad Earth is sad," hisses our courageous contrarian of yet another image's failure to be slick and awesome. An hypothesis may be ticking at the edge of your consciousness right about now... I hear tell that sociopaths aren't moved by anything? An image of a peasant and dog lugging water across a cracked desert in two plastic pails is provided this caption: "Climate change will probably cause droughts that will affect people in hats. Yep, got that." Ha ha ha! Yeah, we "got it," too. You're an asshole.

Another caption: "Here, ice is melting. It could be in the Arctic, or it could be in Scotland. Props to the Guardian, though -- this image can basically illustrate any climate change article you've got lying around. It's not just the Guardian, either. Whoever took the photo must be raking it in." I wonder why this image can be used in so many contexts. Oh, that's right, because the earth is fracking warming everywhere and ice is fracking melting everywhere and the people causing the problems still just want to swap their toxic landfill destined gizmos every two months and keep their crappy green-lawned McMansions in Arizona air-conditioned and have their cheap plane travel and quarter pounder hamburger life styles subsidized by the state so much that if any of their pointless world destroying activities go up by so much as a penny in price they'll just vote for Republicans who want to put everybody but the rich and a few photogenic slaves in concentration camps but who cares, we'll do it, man, we'll do it!

Look, a vulnerability to kitsch is the inevitable complement to any political campaign requiring empathy and earnestness rather than simply cruel cynical calculation to sell it. Oscar Wilde already put this point to bed when he observed that "One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing." Kitsch isn't exactly any thinking person's favored object of contemplation, but it's not like anybody is forcing intellectuals to dwell on unsubtle agitprop images for a good cause instead of reading Thomas Bernhard novels if that's what they would really rather be doing (I know I would). And, did I say intellectual? Needless to say, this little piece of effortless over-it-ness isn't exactly evidence of a stunningly subtle mind, when all is said and done, nor even immune to the counter charge that it is indulging in its own tired denialist kitsch schtick. It is hard to believe, given what people who actually know anything about how advertizing works know about the power of simplicity, fixation, repetition, branding, our hipster really believes his own hastily contrived alibi for this awful piece of denialist crap, namely "[t]o really get the message across, perhaps a richer, more subtle medium is necessary" -- especially when this "proposal" turns out to be nothing but the set-up for another lame joke, a link to some earnest academic who wants to use interpretative dance to raise awareness of climate change. I mean, sure, it's silly, but look at the alternative we're being offered: "So what's the answer? I reckon it's just too tricky to communicate about complicated subjects like climate change using crude images." Since the author has also just dismissed the use of graphs and diagrams demonstrating the problems objectively as "impenetrable" it is clear that the "answer" is "give up."

About catastrophic anthropogenic climate change and efforts to communicate our urgent shared problems the better to mobilize their collective address the author has one simple message: "Why should you care? You probably shouldn't."

io9, with its recent hire of Robot Cultist George Dvorsky to peddle his pseudo-scientific nonsense and with this sort of crap is rather going to the dogs these days. It should stick to literature, film, culture, and geek fandom, in which it has always been refreshing and sometimes fresh. Climate change denialism isn't fracking cute. -- h/t Chad Lott

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Io9 has certainly been threatening to jump the shark lately.

This whole "too kool for skool" shit is pervading the entire Gawker universe, except Jezebel for some reason. I gather some new directive from on-high to be 'above it all' has been handed down.