For 22 years, the Environmental Media Association has handed out yearly awards to films and TV programs that manage to bring environmental issues forward as part of the central crux of the plot. Last year’s winners included the animated Yogi Bear film and a CSI episode about fracking. This year’s winners will be announced on Saturday. For the first time, environmentally conscious online videos will have their own category, where three very different videos will vie to take home the EMA Digital Content Award in partnership with TakePart TV.
The odds-on favorite has to be Funny or Die‘s ‘Don Cheadle is Captain Planet‘, which featured the esteemed actor as a twisted parody version of the much-beloved and green-friendly 90s cartoon character. We covered this video when it was supposed to be a series, but we haven’t seen anything from Cheadle and Funny or Die since. If you haven’t seen this video yet, it’s very funny and worth two minutes of your time. If the Digital Media Award aims to capture the cheeky nature of the Internet as it relates to environmental awareness, then ‘Captain Planet’ is the clear choice. When Captain Planet asks Planeteers to “turn off the faucet between usages and recycle those plastics, or else I’ll turn you into a fucking tree,” it perfectly encapsulates how online video can be both funny and issue-conscious.
That’s not to say that the other two nominated videos don’t have a chance of winning. Both are rap music videos, but their tones could not be any more different. The first is ‘Free Energy’, a video for a song by tree-hugging hip-hop collective The Luminaries and guest singer Aishah. The tune is catchy and the lyrics serve as an important reminder that thousands of patents have been censored by the US government. It’s serious music by serious musicians with a serious message, all brought together with an artsy black-and-white-video.
The final nominee is ‘Berkeley Enough‘, by Californians DJDave and LaeCharles. It’s a lyrical LA-Berkeley turf battle that gets very silly, especially when LaeCharles starts rapping with a bag of granola in his hand as if it’s a dimebag of weed. That’s just one way that, as in ‘Free Energy’, ‘Berkeley Enough’ seeks to replace traditional rap iconography with green issues like clean energy and organic food.
The winner will probably depend on the statement the EMA wishes to make. Captain Planet certainly spread its message to the widest audience (almost 7 million views between Funny or Die and YouTube), but its message is not as on-point as ‘Free Energy’. Meanwhile, ‘Berkeley Enough’ is somewhere in the middle, and again, it’s just goofy and a lot of fun. So which style does the EMA want to reward? We’ll know the answer to this question come Saturday.