most emotional greenwashing i’ve seen yet…

29 10 2008

crossposted from

I almost don’t know what to say about this video. Its an advertisement from HSBC bank, pulling heart strings by depicting environmental activists doing tree-sits and forest defense, being attacked by police to let loggers into an endangered forest. A young woman activist gets out of jail, and hops on a motorcycle with her (I assume) partner, a logger. The lesson is that the bank values a diversity of perspectives and worldviews, just as this couple apparently honors the complexity of our world. All set to a Joanna Newsom song.

Its a great message, even if it still reinforces the false frame of “jobs versus the environment” and sensationalizes & romanticizes confrontation, but as an activist who has been in dangerous and confrontational situations like this before, it feels both triggering and intensely emotional to see a bank characterizing itself in this way, especially given the role of Finance in fueling climate destroying projects. At the same time, this is more of an indication of confrontational tactics moving from margin to the center of our political scene as the urgency of the Climate Crisis intensifies.

Juxtapose the above ad alongside this footage of a similar action in Tasmania, where company thugs from Gunns Logging have recently physically attacked activists, their camp and cars firebombed. This footage is of them attacking a car non-violently blockading a road.

I’m not sure how to react to this.




4 responses

30 10 2008
Jen Angel

Wow. That’s pretty intense. I had some of the same emotions watching the Battle in Seattle film. Would love to hear your thoughts on that Josh. Unless of course you’ve already posted them and I some how missed it.

1 11 2008
Joshua Kahn Russell

yeah it definitely reminded me of battle in seattle. i was emotional throughout that whole movie – especially the scene with the pregnant woman and the riot cop. it was nothing like seeing fictionalized violence – it felt so real. thats one thing that was great about the movie, was that it showed police brutality and the militarization of our cities to a mass audience. a friend noted “its weird to see police brutality in such clear crisp focus! usually our video of it is all grainy and fuzzy like from a cell phone!”

19 11 2008

hey ❤

a friend pointed me toward this post, wondering if i had seen the ad yet.

i see what you’re saying, but i still think it’s disgusting that a company is using this gut-wrenching scene to their own ends. while environmental activism may be moving to the center, i think it’s just as likely that, as it’s co-opted, it’s losing its presence and meaning. i was re-reading an article about girls and culture jamming today that made me think of this.

“Resistance is more easily silenced where a public sphere has diminished, and the slogans and styles of protest are frequently absorbed by advertising industries”
– Anita Harris, “Jamming Girl Culture: Young Women and Consumer Citizenship”

24 11 2008

hey josh, it’s ali!

i thought i had left a comment but i guess it didn’t stick.

to me, this ad is repulsive. it’s completely heart wrenching, but the fact that it touched me made me mad. this type of ad might bring an environmental message to the middle, or normalize protest, but, if it’s essentially co-opted for advertising, the meaning is lost. i was re-reading an essay this week and something in it reminded me of this:

“Resistance is more easily silenced where a public space has diminished, and the slogans and styles of protest are frequently absorbed by the advertising industries.” – Anita Harris, “Jamming Girl Culture”

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