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Is Television Celebrating Earth Day?

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Today is, my television has repeatedly made me aware, Earth Day.  What does that mean from a televisual point of view?  Let's figure it out together…

Nickelodeon and some of the Nick channels will apparently be going dark for a minute at 9pm tonight in an attempt to show kids that it's okay if the television is off, and Disney Channel has a green Mickey silhouette for their logo instead of the white one that is usually up.  NBC has a green peacock, and I know I've seen a green FOX with some sort of leaf in the "O."  But, outside of that, it's all about commercialism isn't it?

Lewis Black pointed out the other night on The Daily Show that a new Elmo DVD about the environment not only comes in the traditional DVD case, but around it is one of those completely useless cardboard sleeves.  Yes, they may look nice, but I'm sure that, even if they're made using recycled materials, they're not as good for the environment as not having a useless cardboard sleeve at all.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not some sort of eco-nut  –I won't pay more for organic food and I don't go around in hemp clothing — but some of the things that get done for Earth Day are rather silly, like the aforementioned Elmo DVD with a cardboard sleeve.  That's just a great example of someone not taking a step back and thinking.

But, importantly, there is something to be said positively for television networks taking a minute out of their day or using a green logo this week.  It actually does, maybe, make people stop and think for a minute about what they're doing in their own lives.  It's the change that might — at least momentarily — spur people to action. 

Yes, you're absolutely right, the Earth is something that we ought to think about on a daily basis, but if you head down that path you're making a big mistake.  Don't be one of those environmentalists that looks at a Prius, shakes their head, and tut-tuts about how you have a car that uses no gas and can do all of 45mph as long as you can move your feet as fast as Fred Flintstone moves his.  Be proud of what you do, that's fine, but do give people credit for doing at least a little.  Be proud that websites like Topgear.com are going out and building cars for $7,000 that can do 70mpg and go 0-60 in seven seconds (I nitpick the idea of a free Rabbit shell, but the heart of the idea is what we're looking at).

There might be an argument to be made that all television networks ought to shut down because of the amount of power they consume daily and that we consume watching them, but that's just not going to happen.  I tend to think that we should be happy with what we've got – networks going out and reminding people that today is Earth Day, that we really have to think about what we're doing to the environment. 

In the end, we're all being "sold" the concept of Earth Day. If television networks have figured out not only how to sell the concept but sell some of their programming as well, more power to them.  After all, the guy who installed the solar array on your roof made a profit while helping the world, why shouldn't networks be afforded the same opportunity?

Plus, let's face it, some of the stuff is kind of nifty.  Just check out this cute little widget (I highly recommend the trailers bit):

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.