Monday, February 8, 2010

Green Movement or Eco-Fascism?

The nacho chip dust has barely settled from yesterday's Super Bowl parties and already a controversy has arisen about at least one of the ads. As usual the assortment ranged from wasted efforts (Leno, Ophrah, and Letterman pointlessly grouped in front of a big-screen TV) to unwatchable (all those remarkably unfunny chicken spots) to cute (just about anything is more palatable when you add in a dash of Betty White), but there are lots of sites that review Super Bowl ads more effectively and with more interest than I can. (And, just as an aside, it appears that the modern American male fantasy still, at this late date, involves some form of hot tub. Has anyone ever actually tried to have sex in a hot tub? Well, don't.) Not at all a sports fan, at the party I attended yesterday I was more interested in drinking wine and talking to people on the terrace than I was in figuring out which players were the Saints and which were the Colts.

The ad that's getting a lot of online commentary is the Eco-Nazi Audi ad. I thought it was funny and addressed a reaction we all have to doing what's right for the environment, that we often feel over-policed about it (I liked the cops going through curbside garbage bins -- "We've got a battery!") but that it's entirely necessary. And living in San Francisco, where you're likely to get an eye roll from the cashier at Whole Foods for not bringing a reusable shopping bag and your apartment building trash room is subject to mandatory composting investigations, I can completely relate to the feeling that being "green" is imposed on the population at large. Even the office building I work in is dedicated to producing zero landfill waste, a seeming impossibility which has resulted in the removal of our wastepaper baskets from our desks, and the insistence that we file our waste within the categories of compostable, mixed paper, recyclable, and the must-be-avoided landfill bin. The employees try to be compliant, I know, but mistakes are inevitable and each day I see the cleaning ladies digging their hands into the piles of detritus to sort it all out correctly, and then I feel bad that we've managed to make someone's shitty subservient job even shittier and more subservient.

So as far as I was concerned, I thought the Audi spot hit all the right notes: it used humor to good effect, and more than adequately set up the product messaging that the Audi was voted the greenest car. So the takeaway is that whatever you are or aren't doing in your personal life to maintain the ecology, you at least have the option of purchasing and driving an eco-approved car. The anger I've seen this morning on discussion boards -- people saying it made them want to key every Audi they saw -- shows what a hot-button subject environmentalism is, but I'm still not sure what people are reacting to: that Audi seems to be making light of the movement, or that they're overstating their claim to be green.

No comments:

Post a Comment