The Independent London Newspaper
24th April 2014

Letters

It’s just too explosive! School eco film is scrapped

Published: 7 October, 2010
by JAMIE WELHAM

A HARD-HITTING film in which two pupils are blown up by a teacher for failing to take climate change seriously was filmed at a ­secondary school in Camden Town.

Camden School for Girls in Sandall Road would not comment on whether it was happy with the finished product, commissioned by environmental group 10:10, which was pulled this week following a furore over the graphic scenes. It was directed by Four Weddings comic screenwriter Richard Curtis.

The three-minute film, entitled No Pressure, was dubbed “enviro-snuff” by disgusted critics and questions are now being asked over the school’s ­judgment in letting it go ahead.

Tom Bugeja, a teacher at the ­children’s charity Kids Company based in Camden Town, said: “I think it’s a bit embarrassing for the school to be associated with this. They’ve ­ended up looking pretty stupid.”

Similar scenes were filmed at the school in September ­featuring ex-Spurs footballer David Ginola and X-files star Gillian Anderson being blown up for expressing mock ambivalence to ­carbon emissions.

Sixth-form pupil Conrad Landin defended the school’s stance. The 17-year-old said: “It was clearly well intentioned but I think there is a danger with a younger audience, that they might not understand. As far as the school is concerned, I think they agreed to it because they support the ­campaign.”

The school has joined up to a scheme pledging to cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent during 2010. The film’s maker, 10:10 founder Franny Armstrong, has already publicly apologised for causing offence.

Chairwoman of governors Penny Wild said she had not been told about the piece.

Comments

Keep politics out of schools

The school has naively agreed to help a political campaign - because the teachers agreed with the campaign.

Wiser teachers would just say NO to joining any political campaign.

Already reached the mindset where terror is funny

It is a common feature of extremists that they believe they are doing it in a good cause; that the ends justify the means. If your cause is saving the world, is it not logical that any means necessary are justified to achieve it? We have a problem with animal rights protesters who have taken to terrorist methods against businesses they oppose. Only the week before the video the eco-terrorist gunman James Jay Lee did it in America. Greenpeace recently used the "we know where you live" line to warn deniers.

Luckily, extremists who think it should actually go that far are presently in the minority. But their presence is having a pernicious influence on the wider environmental movement.
There is a tendency towards intolerance and dehumanisation of any dissent or scepticism. An attempt to make it socially unacceptable with accusations of evil by the allusion to holocaust "deniers".

And it's already happening. Many teachers already do political advocacy for Green politics, and it would be a brave child who stood up against a teacher and the rest of the class to express a contrary view. Employers already do the same, mostly for more cynical reasons it has to be said, and there are few employees independent enough to speak up against the boss.

No, mostly people will stick their hands up in support in public, and then ignore it in private. They don't believe, but they're not going to make their own lives any harder by opposing it.

But that's just the first stage of social conditioning. Once you have made it socially unacceptable to speak in defence of scepticism, you can then introduce stronger methods of encouragement without anyone being able to object. Not execution, of course, but regulation and compulsion to authority.

And that's what scares people about this video - that it portrays a ridiculously exaggerated version of this already worrying tendency.
We're not worried that they're actually planning to explode sceptics, we're worried that they're already in the mindset where they find it funny. Where they don't even seem to notice that the authoritarian message they're sending is horrifying.

The scariest bit of the video was not the explosions, but the authority figure's (teacher, employer) speech leading up to it.

But I'm sure that next time a teacher or employer tries to get people to follow along, the words "no pressure" will make an amusing and useful riposte.

Well intentioned?

The fact that the 10:10 people didn't think it was a mistake until the merde hit the fan shows some latent arrogance and violence in their approach. It's perfectly reasonable to wonder if all the small steps they advocate will make much of a difference to carbon emissions. But Taliban like, 10:10 don't seem interested in different views.

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