Sunday, November 23, 2008

You can't have it both ways...

Once in a while, subject areas meet and we get a chance to borrow from one of our other blogs, as we're doing here.

In Season Two of NBC's hit show 30 Rock, when the real-life NBC kicked off its real-life "Green Is Universal" theme week of programming, the fictional NBC staff at 30 Rock(efeller Center) hired a cheesy actor to put on a green suit and play a character named Greenzo, who would spread the gospel of environmentalism and enlighten the masses about how badly the system's been screwed up. As played by David Schwimmer, and according to that whole episode, environmentalists, personified by Greenzo, are overbearing, egomaniacal, lecturing wackos gone out of control.

And environmentalism is "a fad" to be cashed in on.

And NBC's "green" week is a total joke.

The convoluted message got even more confusing when real-life Al Gore made a guest appearance on the show, as himself, playing it straight for a minute of e-themed conversation with Tina Fey's character, Liz Lemon, before cupping a hand to his ear, frowning, and saying, "A whale is in trouble. I have to go!"

From the 17th through 21st it was "Green Is Universal" week at real-life NBC again. The Today Show staff was once again sent to "the ends of the earth," with Meredith in Australia to experience drought, Matt in Belize to witness eco-tourism's destructiveness, Al in Iceland to see melting glaciers, and Ann in Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro while it still has Hemingway's legendary snows. In the evenings, Brian Williams included e-themed stories in the newscast. And online, NBC's "green" web site was chock full of helpful "save the planet" tips from the stable of network celebs.

But was it serious, or was it a joke? Last year, NBC apparently wanted to play both sides. But now that it's clearly making "green" week an annual event, the network will have to choose. And the choice should've started with Ann Curry in Africa, who had the opportunity to tell the Associated Press all about the compelling and alarming climate changes that brought her to climb a mountain in an attempt to get millions of viewers to wake up and act. But when asked, did Ann say any of this?

"To be honest with you, I'm not sure I'm going to make it to the top," she said. "But all the pain and suffering is worth it because of the incredible vistas all around me."

Um, okay, but what about the melting snowcap, Ann? What about the quickly-declining water supply for nearby villagers?

"I miss my family," said Curry, whose clothes were clammy and wet from a rainstorm Saturday. "And also warm showers. And I could really use a stiff drink."

If this is a celebrity's idea of helping to create environmental awareness, NBC would be better off hiring Greenzo.

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