WASHINGTON -- There once was an Indianapolis concert featuring 50 pianos. Splendid instruments, pianos. Still, 50 might have been excessive. As is today's chorus summoning us to save the planet.
In the history of developed democracies with literate publics served by mass media, there is no precedent for today's media enlistment in the crusade to promote global warming "awareness." Concerning this, journalism, which fancies itself skeptical and nonconforming, is neither.
The incessant hectoring by the media-political complex's "consciousness-raising" campaign has provoked a comic riposte in the form of "The Goode Family," an animated ABC entertainment program on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Cartoons seem, alas, to be the most effective means of seizing a mass audience's attention. Still, the program is welcome evidence of the bursting of what has been called "the green bubble."
Gerald and Helen Goode, their children and dog Che (when supervised, he is a vegan; when unsupervised, squirrels disappear) live in a college town, where T-shirts and other media instruct ("Meat is murder"), admonish ("Don't kill wood") and exhort ("Support our troops ... and their opponents"). The college, where Gerald works, gives students tenure. And when Gerald says his department needs money to raise the percentage of minority employees, his boss cheerily replies, "Or we could just fire three white guys. Everybody wins!" Helen shops at the One Earth store, where community shaming enforces social responsibility: "Attention One Earth shoppers, the driver of the SUV is in aisle four. He's wearing the baseball cap."
The New York Times television critic disapproves. The show "feels aggressively off-kilter with the current mood, as if it had been incubated in the early to mid-'90s, when it was possible to find global-warming skeptics among even the reasonable and informed." That is a perfect (because completely complacent) sample of the grating smugness of the planet-savers, delivered by an entertainment writer: Reasonable dissent is impossible. Cue the pianos.
"The Goode Family" does not threaten Jonathan Swift's standing as the premier English-language satirist. But when a Goode child apologizes to his parent for driving too much, and the parent responds, "It's OK ... what's important is that you feel guilty about it," the program touches upon an important phenomenon: ecology as psychology.