I don’t write about politically charged issues in this space, in part because I’m not a masochist and in part because there are, as I understand it, several other places on the Internet that traffic in such content. Still, following the events of the last four weeks, I’ve received email suggesting that it’s my duty - somebody actually used that word - to adjust the column’s tenor accordingly. That’d be all well and good, save for my twin desires not to alienate any of the 11 people who read this thing on a regular basis and to not hate what I do for a living.
Which brings me to the video du jour, “Save Our Snowmen,” produced by the well-meaning folks at Cool Effect. It addresses one of the few issues about which I am humorless, myopic and patently unable to comprehend any position other than my own: climate change.
Spoiler: climate change is real. It is happening. It is scientific fact. To suggest otherwise is to disqualify yourself from participation in any moderately serious intellectual exercise. If you don’t believe in climate change, please allow me to introduce you to a friend who sells vacation properties in affected coastal areas. He would really, really, really like to make your acquaintance.
That’s my long and overly self-important way of saying that I’m philosophically on board with any effort that seeks to obliterate existing pockets of climate-change denial and/or support groups working towards that end. But with all due respect (and awareness that I haven’t personally done anything except whine), advocates and their content partners need to replace their current reasoned, respectful approaches with something that better reflects the urgency of the situation. We’re long past the point where cute little jokes about snowmen displaced by warming temperatures land with a modicum of impact, either in the overall debate or within the context of specific programs.
Unfortunately, this is the central conceit of “Save Our Snowmen,” in which the director of the Global Snowman Sanctuary details the lifestyle changes that snowmen have made in recent years. He jokes that the sanctuary is known as “snowman’s land” (say it out loud - it’ll come to you). He shows us the snow sauna in which the snowmen “chill out” and details the other amenities (karaoke night, marshmallow roasts) they enjoy.
Wait - somehow it gets even more jocular-er. We’re also introduced to a father/daughter pair from the town of Holiday Hills (!) that laments the departure of one Mr. Flakes (!!), who left only a scarf in his wake (!!!!!!!). A carrot farmer notes the decline in request for carrot noses; a business owner pulls open the ice machine outside his store to reveal a displaced snowman sleeping inside. Oh, you never thought about the ripple effects, did you? Really sensitive.
I get that the central idea here is to raise awareness of Cool Effect and prompt contributions to its eminently worthy carbon-reduction projects. And I understand that the tactics I’d like to see deployed more frequently - confronting, yelling, naming names… basically anything that doesn’t involve Leonardo DiCaprio having earnest conversations with Dr. Jeffrey Sachs - aren’t the ones that would help Cool Effect achieve its goals, branding-related or otherwise.
But there couldn’t be a less appropriate time to attempt to wrest cheap giggles out of the notion of a climate-change-prompted mass migration, especially since it’s possible we’ll see the real thing before too long. That’s why the only moment in “Save Our Snowmen” that resonated with me was the one in which the sanctuary leader bemoans all the carrots, tree limbs and coal nuggets (noses/arms/eyes) sent his way by people hoping to help the refugees. Palming one of the contributions, he deadpans, “Coal - isn’t that what got us into this mess in the first place?”It ain’t exactly the detonation of a truth bomb, but the jab lands. Nothing else here does.