Jonah Goldberg

By now you may have heard that the man behind such heartwarming chick flicks as "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral" has come out with an environmental snuff film.

Leading environmental organizations in Britain, with the backing of numerous major corporations, recruited British screenwriter Richard Curtis to produce a video for the "10:10" campaign, which seeks to cut carbon emissions by 10 percent every year for 10 years.

The video begins in a classroom, where a mild-mannered teacher tells her middle-school students about the 10:10 effort. She then asks the class if they'd like to sign up. Most do, but two kids abstain. The teacher tells them, "That's absolutely fine, your own choice." Then, she reaches for a device on her desk with a red button on it. She pushes the button, and the kids who refused to sign up for the green crusade are blown up, their blood and viscera spraying across the classroom, staining the school uniforms of their conformist and compliant classmates. The same "joke" plays out several more times in different settings (an office, soccer practice, etc.).

Each time someone resists the idea of getting with the program, the response is swift, bloody execution.

The video's defenders argue it's all a big joke, lighten up.

For the layman, the obvious response is, "That's not true." Blowing up kids isn't funny.

But that misses the point.

This isn't a joke for the benefit of you and me. No, this is a knee-slapper for those already committed to the cause. The subtext is, "Wouldn't it be awesome if we could just get rid of these tiresome, inconvenient people?" That's why they're blown up without anyone trying to change their minds. That's the joke: "Enough with these idiots already."

How else to explain the fact that this thing went through the entire pre-production and filming process, was undoubtedly screened by any number of people, most likely including sponsors and PR people, and none of them said, "Are you nuts? We can't go public with this."

That's the outrage here: not that they thought normal people would find it funny, but that the producers and sponsors clearly did think it was funny. It's like one of those ugly inside jokes high school cliques share that instantly become horrendous when outsiders find out about them. In their arrogance and insularity, they didn't realize that their inside joke wasn't appropriate for mixed company. Imagine Curtis' horror when he discovered no one was laughing outside the green bunker.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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