It's Easy Being Green: Just Listen to Celebrities

Nickelodeon kicked up the “green” factor a notch at this year's Kids' Choice Awards by giving actor Leonardo DiCaprio the network's first Big Green Help award at the March 28 ceremony.

Out with the celebration of mostly kid-friendly entertainment choices and in with eco-warrior propaganda.

DiCaprio, dubbed the “coolest guy on this hot planet” by presenter Cameron Diaz, used boilerplate fear-mongering in his acceptance speech to recruit more kids to his environmentalist cause:

I want to take a moment and ask you kids something. Do you like this planet that we live on? Is this an awesome place to live or what? I've got news for you. It's the only home we have, and right now, our mother, our mother, all of our mothers, mother earth, is hurting. And she needs a generation of thoughtful, caring and active kids like all of you, to protect her for the future.

The “Big Green Help” award is an extension of the same-named eco-warrior training ground Nick launched last year. A press release about Nick's new award reveals as much, “The Big Green Help aims to fashion a new generation of environmentalists for whom green will become not only a cause, but a way of life.”

The Culture and Media Institute previously reported that “The Big Green Help is filled to the brim with throbbing dance music, bright colors (green most prominent, of course), grinning teen celebrities and feel-good phrases. Nick is indoctrinating kids into the secular cult of environmentalism, and it wants them to indoctrinate you in turn.”

DiCaprio encouraged the current crop of the tiny-environmentalist set to spread the green gospel. “So I'm going to ask all of you to keep learning, keep learning about this great planet we all live on, get your friends, get your parents, get your teachers involved. Let them know how important it is to save this planet,” he implored.

1998's Teen Dreamboat?


DiCaprio appears to be an odd choice to accept an award at a ceremony that's all about promoting current kiddy pop culture. Yes, pictures of DiCaprio graced the bedroom walls of many tweens and teens in the late 1990s following his romantic roles as Romeo in “Romeo + Juliet” and ill-fated Jack Dawson in “Titanic.”

But five of DiCaprio's last seven major studio productions have been rated R. His latest, this year's “Revolutionary Road,” is about a dissatisfied, 1950s suburban couple, and explores such adult themes as marital infidelity and abortion.

Besides his decidedly mature acting work, the last time DiCaprio made news off the silver screen was in 2000, when he caused a stir by interviewing President Bill Clinton about environmental issues.

Safe to say then that DiCaprio isn't exactly in demand with a demographic currently enthralled with the bubble-gum pop of Disney stars Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers.

Connection to Radical Environmentalists

Nickelodeon noted DiCaprio's work as a “tireless promoter of green causes and events, and an avid environmentalist” in the press release announcing the first-ever “Big Green Help Award,” all of which surely played a role in his win. Diaz highlighted DiCaprio's efforts in her introduction:

He talks about these things to anyone and everyone who will listen. But he doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He drives an electric car, recycles, and lives in a solar-energy powered home. In other words, he doesn't ask anyone to do anything that he isn't already doing himself.

Diaz failed to mention DiCaprio's position as a Trustee to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Nick's partner in its “green campaign. Nick did however acknowledge DiCaprio's connection to the group in the fourth paragraph of the previously cited press release.

NRDC, as CMI noted in January, is an environmentalist group that takes extreme positions on the effects of global warming and the role humans have played in contributing to it. The organization promotes big-government action as a solution to the perceived problem of global warming, including “new laws, regulations and technology mandates for industry,” including regulation of the “appliances and equipment in our homes and offices to reduce our electricity needs.”

What are the kids learning?

DiCaprio urged the audience to “keep learning” by going to Nick's “Big Green Help” site. But with partners such as the NRDC, the only thing kids are learning is that global warming is a fact.

Nothing on the site encourages critical thinking. Nick fails to provide links to educational resources, except to organizations such as NRDC and the Boys and Girls Club of America. No sources are cited for such facts as “About 20% of CO2 emissions in the United States comes from cars. That's a lot.”

Instead, kids are treated to games in which they can battle a CO2 monster and message boards that allow them to sound-off about the latest environmental crimes witnessed and how to nag more people to join their cause. They're told to “turn off your lights, computer and electronics when you're not using them.”

Funny, watching less Nickelodeon and spending less time on the “Big Green Help” site are not listed as ways to “stop the flow…of the Earth's energy and precious natural resources.”

Nickelodeon and DiCaprio proved they don't want to teach kids; they want to indoctrinate them. They had a built-in audience of kids on Saturday night to preach environmentalism to and didn't waste the opportunity.

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a divison of the Media Research Center.