World Leaders

ADM Tries to Take Down Funny Video; Big Business Has No Solutions; Now What?

A legal complaint from agribusiness giant ADM has resulted in the removal from Youtube of a fake video of ADM’s CEO making over-honest pronouncements. (The video is still available herehere, and, for download and reposting, here.)

Last week, the filmmaking team behind The End of Poverty? partnered with the Yes Men to create a parallel, imaginary World Economic Forum in which world leaders came up with real solutions to poverty. The leaders seemed, in a < a href=”http://www.we-forum.org/en/events/AnnualMeeting2010/index.shtml”>series of videos, to be supporting a set of initiatives based on 10 Solutions to End Poverty, a petition for which the filmmakers are trying to get ten million signatures by the end of 2010.

Each of those initiatives pages has links to organizations that are fighting hard for change on these issues.

In contrast, the actual World Economic Forum ended Sunday with a profound lack of results, some seemingly satirical but all-too-real headlines (like Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein’s rumoured $100 million bonus), and one fruitless complaint to Youtube.

“If we can bail out bankers to the tune of trillions of dollars, surely we can solve poverty, which will just take a few structural changes, plus a whole lot less money,” said Beth Portello, the producer of The End of Poverty?

“All the crises we’re facing are rooted in massive inequality and poverty,” says Philippe Diaz, the film’s director. “If these leaders really wanted to make a difference, they would work towards ending poverty, however uncomfortable that might be for business.”

“It’s easier to remove funny videos from Youtube,” added Portello.

Coalition of the Willing: film-making, collaboration, activism

This is a brilliant initiative: a growing online activist movie created by an army of collaborators, who are animating a script by philosopher/activist Tim Rayner:


Still from Coalition of the Willing: Back to the 60s by World Leaders

The film is appearing online at coalitionofthewilling.org.uk. Rayner’s collaborator is the film maker Simon Robson aka Knife Party, who has pulled in a glorious range of film makers and animators to bring Rayner’s script – on how activists can come together to combat climate change.

The first clips went up at the start of this week. More will be appearing in waves in the coming weeks.

it’s a really exciting way of bringing creative people together on a project like this. The medium is wonderful. I’m not entirely sure I’m convinced of the message – though I would like to be. The Coalition of the Willing’s theme is that that the net allows “swarm politics” to flourish, giving activists a unique chance to mobilise against global warming.

While the net does have that effect, there are two other effects which seem to be just as strong:

1) It gives exactly the same power to those who think the very opposite of what you do – witness the swarm  of warming scepticism online.

2) Though it creates lots of networks there is no real incentive for those networks to link up. They are often reproducing exactly the same message, deploying the same tactics, in isolation from each other. At the same time as it pulls people together it also keeps them in separate silos.

Knife PartyTim Rayner

FILMMAKERS: Adam Gault & Stefanie AugustineBran Dougherty-JohnsonCassiano Prado, Mario Sader & Ralph PinelClapham Road StudiosDave BaumDecoyDom Del TortoDylan White & Andy HagueEcholabForeign OfficeAndreas GebhardtJames Wignall,BBWD (Loyalkaspar)Sehsucht – Directed by Mate SteinforthMighty NiceParasol IslandThiago MaiaWorld LeadersYum Yum London

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Did #pm2un Tweet make Gordon to go to Copenhagen?

I was blogging last week in response to green.tv’s suggestion that there were too many climate campaigns. My view was that it wasn’t that there were too many, but that maybe they weren’t reaching the right people.

Last week the website BeThatChange.com were pushing hard on a campaign on Twitter,#pm2un, trying to persuade Gordon Brown to commit to go to the COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen. At the time this seemed like a great example of a well-targeted campaign.

Though it’s not that unusual for leaders not to commit to attending this sort of conference until the last moment, BeThatChange had cleverly spotted an opportunity there. It looks rubbish for Brown to be claiming to be leading the agenda at Copenhagen when he’s not even committed to going himself. A couple of days after BeThatChange cranked up the heat with their #pm2un campaign, @EdMilibandMP tweeted a survey on his Ed’s Pledge site, asking visitors what their priorities for Copenhagen were. Miliband offered the following options to chose from:

1) the Prime Minister attending Copenhagen to help deliver a deal

2) doing more to provide home insulation in the UK

3) more government support to create green jobs

Whatever you think about the yeas and nays of deliberative democracy, when I looked on Friday, “the Prime Minster attending Copenhagen to help deliver a deal” had received 93% of the vote. How much of that was due to the BeThatChange.com campaign is hard to calculate, but I suspect that the question was even on Miliband’s poll suggests that the original #pm2un campaign was bang on.

If anything, I suppose it’s possible the Labour Party saw how potentially embarrassing such a campaign could be if it gained much more momentum, and instead turned it to their advantage. Either way the news came through late last night, less than 48 hours before BeThatChange’s next #pm2un twitterstorm:

Gordon Brown urges world leaders to attend climate change talk

Whatever did happen behind closed doors, it was nice work all round, really.

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