How do you solve the problem that the American public seems uninterested in television shows and movies that preach about global warming and other environmental issues? Hide it from them!
That's the approach proposed on December 11 at the Hollywood Goes Green conference by Paula Silver, founder of Beyond The Box Productions, which markets independent films.
"Social norming is about making behavior seem like you do it all the time," Silver said during a discussion on marketing green messages at the first annual Hollywood Goes Green conference in
"It seems to me that if we can put some of these messages subliminally into the action so that you see somebody recycling, you see somebody turning off, pulling out their plugs," continued Silver. "It's about seeing and doing and creating that performance structure so that people say, 'I should be doing that.'"
Silver said films need to incorporate environmentally conscious messages "in a way that is much more organic and not be a film about that, because at the end of the day it's the good stories that really win," adding that "it [an environmental message] has to be part of the story and not just the story."
Other panelists blamed the lack of success of films like Leonardo DiCaprio's "The 11th Hour" on the public's unwillingness to hear bad news and inability to ingest large amounts of complicated information.
"Our culture is at a place where we don't like bad news and we do not like to deal with, we're in full blown denial of a whole bunch of things," said Leila Connor Petersen, the writer, director and producer of "The 11th Hour," a documentary about "the state of the human condition." Since its August release, the film has earned $707,000 and has been seen by an estimated 70,000 people, according to Connor Peterson.
"Climate change is a symptom of a deeper problem and our approach was look, you're not going to cure the patient if you don't diagnose them correctly and the patient really is the human psyche," she said, "and exactly why it's so hard to ingest the information 11th Hour has is we've created an immune response against the medicine."
Liana Schwarz, vice president for Participant Productions, which produced Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," told an audience member that, "You know way more than the average American on all these issues and you really have to sit back and think, 'Okay, where do we want to make the creative choice on this, where do we think the audience going to be able to take it and where are they just going to say, 'Forget it; this was too much?'"