Voices of Hollywood

‘Nature is Speaking’

October 2014: Conservation International launched a campaign advocating the preservation of nature. It is called ‘Nature is Speaking’, and features eight of Hollywood’s crème-de-la-crème speaking on behalf of nature in a series of short video clips. From the ocean, to the soil, to the rainforest and the flowers, each celebrity embodies one major element of nature. The twist? We don’t see any of the actors. The face of the campaign is nature itself, in the form of razor sharp video-footage of oceans, waterfalls, rainforests and mountain ranges. The celebrities are there to lend their voices to these images, to speak on behalf of the element they are representing. The campaign works on a number of levels. Firstly, there is the obvious popular appeal that a campaign such as this gains from the involvement of Hollywood stars. When Leonardo Di Caprio delivered a speech on climate change at the opening of the 2014 Climate Summit, the video reached two million views within a few days. Don’t get me wrong: there’s a flipside to all this, which is that someone like Di Caprio will get millions of followers no matter what he does, whether it be deliver a speech at the UN or send Rihanna love roses, or fart on a Sunday afternoon. And I’m sure that of those two million-plus viewers, the majority clicked to see Leo’s beard and wasn’t particularly interested, at least initially, in the actual content of his UN climate speech. Indeed, if I’m being completely honest here, I was one of them. I, like everyone else, am fascinated by celebrities such as he. And their beards. Nevertheless, we must be careful not to underestimate the awareness-raising potential harnessed by these popular media icons. Simply on account of involving the likes of Kevin Spacey (whose video ‘The Rainforest’ is my personal favorite), Penelope Cruz and Robert Redford, the Nature is Speaking campaign possesses a scope that reaches farther and wider than any Greenpeace campaign ever will. Though quantity is certainly not quality, it’s a pretty good start. Yet the Nature is Speaking campaign is more than just a media hype; it’s also a well thought out psychological and philosophical thought experiment. For me, the beauty lies in the following: the campaign takes some of the world’s most famous actors (a category of humans generally associated with self-indulgence and narcissism), strips their faces away (literally), and then has them speak on behalf of those natural entities whose voices are muted. This is the critique of anthropocentrism boiled down to its purest form. Its power lies in its simplicity; amid the maelstrom of politically charged debates about carbon emissions and alternative technologies, the Nature is Speaking campaign reminds us all of one magnificent, inevitable truth: “nature doesn’t need humans; humans need nature”.

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