Home Regular Contributors Cody Battershill Hollywood Group is Key to Celebrity Activism, Anti-Oil and Gas Rhetoric

Hollywood Group is Key to Celebrity Activism, Anti-Oil and Gas Rhetoric

Cody Battershill

Let’s say you’re a young up-and-coming Hollywood celebrity who wants to be seen by your peers and your fans as a person of substance – not a superficial partier with no social values.

Instead, you’d rather be seen as an activist. But where do you turn? Relax. There’s a group that’s perfectly suited to someone who craves instant environmental activist credibility, Beverly Hills style. And it’s huge.

It’s called the Environmental Media Association (EMA) and since 1989 it’s billed itself as a movement powered by celebrity role modelling, campaign work, smart media messaging and a ton of fundraising events, seminars and awards nights.

The EMA, a well-established child of the entertainment industry, brags about its record of working through television, film and music in order to “reach millions of people with a message of concern about our environment.”

Daryl Hannah, Leo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, James Cameron, Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Mark Ruffalo, Joshua Jackson and Cameron Diaz are just a small sample of stars associated with EMA campaigns over the years.

Nestled in a suite of non-descript offices a few blocks south of the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills, California, the group was founded in 1989 by – among others – TV legend Norman Lear as a vehicle that would work with the entertainment industry to encourage green production and raise environmental awareness.

When Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil Campaign targeted the Canadian oilsands in a video narrated by Joshua Jackson in 2012, there’s little doubt his voice-over gig came through the EMA, which over the years has effectively acted as a clearing house for celebrities looking to climb aboard the green activist bandwagon.

The same is true of John Krasinski and his less-than-memorable 2013 anti-fracking rant Promised Land. In spite of its poor reviews, the EMA still gave the film and its co-star Matt Damon green awards for that year.

After all, from The Day After Tomorrow, to GasLand, to Avatar, to the anti-fracking Simpsons episode “Opposites A-Frack,” the EMA has never met an activist project it didn’t celebrate.

Why am I telling you this? Because, given the EMA has a standing partnership with studios like Paramount, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Fox and NBCUniversal, chances are good that you’re familiar with EMA’s work – although you may not even know it.

It’s not by accident that U.S. celebrities and their studio backers attack Canadian energy. Once you become aware of the EMA and its activist work against the Canadian energy sector, its families and communities, you tend to marvel at its success – and its shallowness.

That’s why I hope more Canadians will get involved in the discussion, question these celebrities and their EMA anti-oilsands rhetoric – and push back!

Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder/spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer-built organization that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.