"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Greta Thunberg–Not Satisfied With Her Fifteen Minutes Of Fame, The Little Ankle-Biter Goes For More

Greta Thunberg is back and with a vengeance, letting the august men of the latest environmental conference have it.  “Blah, blah”, she said, "yada, yada, yakety-yak”, all words and no action while the Earth is burning.  They should be ashamed of themselves, she intoned, more pedantic, hectoring, and numbing than she had ever been. She loved the sound of her own voice and oversized image on the monitor which would be broadcast around the world. 

Image result for images greta thunberg lecturing milan conferees

Little Greta, manipulated and co-opted by media-hungry environmentalists who love any free press they can get; who jumped on the young ingénue's wagon from the start, but who were growing impatient with her Vogue covers and childishness, were ready to jump off as soon as her engine went balky and the wheels began to wobble, or when she hit a bad bump, thrown into the bushes.  

Then came Milan and the chance for real, serious exposure.  The conference would be their chance to make hay, to put the young girl up on the podium and let her loose.  She would be the emotive counter to facts and figures.  She would be the face of the new generation’s fears and concerns.  The old men would have to listen to her.

The participants, of course, were unmoved, stifled their yawns, gave a polite round of applause, wished she would go away, and hoped that this would be the last time that they would have to be subjected to her puerile nonsense. 

Yet she is not about to go away.  There is plenty more where that came from. Disney has recently announced that they will be making a documentary about Greta, and if there was any corporate bandwagon-jumping, this is it.  Disney is sure to get the cohort crowd – youngsters, always Disney’s prime target audience, who want to be famous (first) for espousing a (good) cause – young adults who are proud to have such an idealistic, hopeful person in their midst, and all the movie investors who hope to make a bundle before the fifteen minutes are up.  The Federalist had an even better idea. Why should Disney be so humdrum and make a documentary?

Disney and Hulu should launch Greta as a full-blown princess, a perfect role for her. Driven by anger, her greatest love is for the cause, there are no men to steer her off course, she depends on the kindness of strangers, and she’s got long braids and a boat. The musical numbers practically write themselves. There could be Climate March ballet with a woke teen choir carrying banners and singing about how having children is irresponsible, a duet between Greta and a giant, ugly Trump puppet who spews gas, and a lovely little number where she communes with sea creatures while en route across the Atlantic who thank her for saving the world from corporate polluters.

Image result for images disney movie cinderella

Better that Greta be turned over to Hollywood handlers than to environmentalists.  At least the American public will love her as a princess in crinoline and wands and sparkle rather than have to put up with her wearisome badgering.  In the hands of Disney, Greta and environmentalism will be given a much-needed makeover, some prettiness, and happy doings. 

Andy Warhol was right when he said that everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes.  Everyone in America wants to be famous, and thanks to the culture of fame, celebrity and  Hollywood glamour, the endless news cycle and the popularity of social media, everyone can be famous. It just takes some quirk of personality or looks, some hot media-ready coincidence (as in the case of Greta, catastrophe and idealism), commercial interest, political venality, and an ambitious mother to actually be famous.

It’s too bad that Greta will find out later rather than sooner that nobody really, deep down, cares about her, her ideas, her passion or her idealism.  There are enough people, far more attractive, smart, and and media-savvy already hogging the spotlight for attention about any number of causes.  The Oscars and Golden Globes alone have become little more than a stage for grandstanding the obvious, and every day someone from Hollywood is crying foul and mouthing off about the climate, capitalism, homophobia, and whales.  

Greta is up against a mighty celebrity machine which turns out new stars all the time.  The difference is that Richard Gere, Robert De Niro, and Sasha Baron Cohen have lucrative studio contracts – they and their agents have successfully parlayed their initial fifteen minutes of fame into years. 

Greta will undoubtedly end up like legions of lesser time-bound celebrities who make the news, are quoted, photographed, sought after, and then left on the curb. Although she has offended no one, she is simply a popular, but temporary shill for others’ political issues.  Since she is neither an environmental ecologist nor an economist with charts, nor a politician with electoral cards on the table; and has only innocence (i.e. not tangled up in complexity) and eagerness in her favor, she will toddle along for a while until she is gobbled up and forgotten.

A few years ago Billy Graham was everywhere – on television, kneeling alongside Presidents (his account of praying with a tearful Richard Nixon made headlines), lecturing, and preaching at tent revivals.  He was America’s evangelist, the public face of our deep Christian spirituality.  We looked to him for moral and ethical guidance.

Or not.  To many he was a charlatan, one more publicity-seeking, Bible-thumping huckster in the long tradition of American revivalists, snake-oil salesman, and get-rich-quick carny con men. Burt Lancaster played a perfect Billy Graham in Elmer Gantry, the Sinclair Lewis itinerant preacher out to make a buck, get in Sister Ruth’s pants, and take every rural rube in the country for a ride. Lancaster could have been portraying Billy Sunday, Aimee Semple McPherson, Pat Robertson, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, or a hundred other evangelists who have barnstormed the country since the wagons went west.

There was no escaping Billy Graham for almost fifty years. He was everywhere and with everyone. He was America’s go-to good person. Being seen with Billy Graham had no downside whatsoever.

Those few who thought him a sanctimonious publicity hound were too few to matter. Politicians and political wannabees trotted him out even when he was doddering and never sure who had invited him.

It was a win-win game.  Politicos used Graham to pander to their fundamentalist voters, to show the Christian flag, and to stand publicly for morality and righteousness.  And Graham basked in the reflected glory of public figures.  He didn’t seem to care who they were or what they stood for.  He was uninterested in the straightness of their moral spine, the cut of their ethical jib, or the purpose in their hearts.  He would stand, kneel, and sing with anybody.

Yet this is no cautionary tale about the greed of capitalistic enterprise, progressive coattail morality, or the dumbed-down electorate.  It is simply descriptive – it always helps to have great examples of populism – and sad.  When Greta finds herself left hanging, she will have no idea why.

Most Americans say, yes, global warming is a potential problem, but when asked whether they would be willing to put up with the cost, inconvenience, and federal legislation to enable action, they demur.  First let’s deal with COVID and Afghanistan, and Black Lives Matter, getting back to work, and improving elementary education, they say, and then maybe we will consider some non-invasive, light, first steps to controlling gases and bad air that don’t impinge on freedom, driving, fast food, and fireworks.  

One thing they don’t want is to hear about it any more.  There is a saturation threshold in everyone, but progressive activists seem to ignore it, hammering away as they do about gender fluidity, gay rights, Black Lives Matter; ethnicity, identity, inclusivity, and diversity.  Enough already, say all but the most obsessed.  We get it, now go home.

So, the old men at the environment summit in Milan were exceedingly polite to Greta, but they, like the rest of us just wanted some peace and quiet.  Not to worry, Greta was lucky to get a second fifteen minutes, but they will soon be up.

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