Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

No Pressure

Richard Curtis' short film No Pressure, supporting action on climate change, has caused a lot of controversy. It has been withdrawn by the 10:10 campaign, because it has been so widely misinterpreted.

Here's a quick BBC online article about the controversy.

You can watch the video itself (that link's to Youtube, but it's all over the place).

My question is - is this film so ambiguous in meaning that it plays into the hands of anti-environmentalists? Or are those who misinterpret it being deliberately stupid? Or is this some kind of difference between the European and American (or left/right) sense of humour?

The video shows a number of scenes with people discussing whether to implement carbon footprint initiatives. One or two people say they can't be bothered to which the reply is 'That's OK, No Pressure'. At the end of each scene a red button is pushed and the 'can't be bothered' people are exploded into bloody fragments of flesh.

Here are two interpretations of what this film means (I've taken these from this metafilter discussion, but you can see the same points made all over the place). I picked them because they are (I think) both made by intelligent people.
I'm afraid this commercial can only have come from . . . well . . . an ivory tower, a place so self-sorted and insulated from other viewpoints that it seems like a refreshing, delightful fantasy to say, in effect, "OMG you guys what if we could just explode those idiots?"

Did you stop to think the message (however poorly delivered) was not that we should kill people with differing opinions, but that the consequences of AGW will be an increasing death toll from heat waves, disease, ?
I also like this one, perhaps less nuanced.
Thanks a lot, you dumb English fucks, with your so-called "special " brand of humor. Should have stuck with Benny Hill and his underwear jokes. Far less damaging than this shit.

And here are some - er - less intellectual critical comments from the Socratic debating arena that is YouTube comments:
"Utterly vile. I would send you all to Auschwitz to see the results of a willingness to murder people with whom you disagree. Eco-nazis indeed!"

"You people are sick-minded! You have blown your agenda into the open. I am now certain that eco-groups are supportive of human extermination. I pull my entire support from your cause. "


What I think? The film appeals to a sense of humour which not everyone shares, and more generally it requires a tolerance of ambiguity. The message is hidden (but very easy to find) within the overt events. It is well known that more right wing and authoritarian people are less tolerant of ambiguity of meaning, more likely to take works of fiction as advocating the events they depict (cf Harry Potter). On top of that there's a deliberate affectation of misunderstanding, for propaganda reasons.

The meaning of this video is obviously not 'Yay let's kill people'. I mean, however impervious you are to nuance, I flat don't believe one person in the world thinks that Richard Curtis, the director of Love Actually, is saying OMG let's all go on a death rampage.

To my mind the meaning of the film ('if you refuse to reduce your carbon footprint, you are risking your very physical existence, for real') is pretty obvious? But do people making advocacy films have to appeal to the least brainy amongst us? Did Richard Curtis do wrong? Was this controversy deliberate? (I don't think it was)
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  • Phew what a scorcher

    I see Gove has backed down on climate change and it's back in the curriculum again.

  • GCSE Computer Science

    My book is now for sale

  • LJ Settings

    At the moment I have set up this journal so that only friends can comment. I hate doing this, but I was just getting too much Russian spam.