'Green Fatigue'

Posted: Apr 27, 2009 10:15 AM
'Green Fatigue'


Stephen Drucker, the creator of the New York Times Sunday "Styles" section who after steering Martha Stewart Living is now editor-in-chief of House Beautiful, says the "whole subject of 'green' wants to make the top of my head come off."

Lecturing at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Mr. Drucker said "green is complicated" and "comes around every thirty years."

For proof, he displayed an entirely "green issue" of House Beautiful devoted to the environment dated October 1949. "The Scientists Behind Climate Control," blared one of the headlines 60 years ago. Another: "How to Fix Your Private Climate." One article suggested Americans move to the suburbs to escape "indoor pollution."

A green issue of House Beautiful was also published in 1979, asking: "Energy: Oil, Sun or Wind?"

On the same day this columnist attended Mr. Drucker's lecture, Katherine Bagley of the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) wrote: "Another year, another Earth Day, another wave of 'Green Issues' on newsstands … or not. After three years, the springtime fad seems to have run its course, with a number of magazines cancelling and cutting back their special editions on the environment."

She suggested “green fatigue” has swept the nation. Indeed, only last year CJR reported that the number of special environment issues had nearly doubled since 2007.

"This year, the tide turned mightily," she wrote, with Outside, Vanity Fair, Discover, Mother Jones and others canceling green issues. Time and Newsweek even stepped back. Only U.S. News & World Report, Miss Bagley reported, produced "this year's only truly cover-to-cover green issue."


It might not have the star power or glitz of Sundance and Cannes, but in this increasingly politically charged culture of ours, the world's top moviemakers - in surprising numbers - have embraced Washington's first-ever political film festival to be held May 7-10.

"We are excited with the response from filmmakers - almost 100 film submissions from around the country and the world. And for an inaugural event that is quite humbling," Gayle Osterberg, co-chairwoman and chief operating officer of the Politics on Film festival, tells Inside the Beltway.

The former vice president of corporate communications for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) says up to 15 films have been selected for screening during the festival. "We will announce them on Tuesday ... and we are really excited about all of them," he says.

"Movies are art and communication forms for our time, and it made sense to provide a platform in the nation's capital," Ms. Osterberg says, "to bring people together to talk and debate and have a meaningful conversation. The hallmark of any good film is if you are talking about it afterwards ... and if it promotes a thought or idea or perspective you didn't have before. Most of these films fall into that category."

Honorary chairwoman of the festival is Mary Margaret Valenti, widow of longtime Hollywood lobbyist and MPAA President Jack Valenti, while Ms. Osterberg's fellow co-chairmen are Philip DuFour, former social secretary to Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore; and Washington film and political veteran Lee Johnson, chief executive officer of the festival.

"I began to think about this concept when I was working on a project for the MPAA - I produced a video for them two years ago about members of Congress and their favorite movies," says Mr. Johnson, who interviewed 25 lawmakers and spliced together their favorite movie scenes.

"I was thinking in a very focused way about politics and movies," he tells this columnist. "I began to ponder whether such an idea could be combined and organized as a film festival. I thought that the long fascination and love affair between Hollywood and Washington must have resulted in something similar being developed somewhere along the way.

"However, I did some research and was surprised to learn that this was not the case," he says. "Lots of focused film festivals with specific themes, many of which were politically motivated or focused, but none that covered the whole range."

Prime sponsor and partner of the film festival is the Bipartisan Policy Center, established in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell. On Wednesday evening, Dan Glickman, the MPAA's chairman and CEO, is set to lead a roundtable discussion of what makes a movie political, with the festival's opening-night party to be held the following evening.


An Inside the Beltway reader named "Rich" wasn't impressed with a Pew Research poll finding that, in light of the economic crisis, 1 in 5 American adults "are following the example of first lady Michelle Obama and are making plans to plant a vegetable garden to save money on food."

He writes: "People have been planting vegetable gardens long before Michelle Obama was born. She is the one following the example of everyone else."