This is the mantra of climate mobilizations, the phrase heard at every meeting, conference and debate: “We need a new narrative. But which one? Above all, how can we make this narrative audible to citizens at a time when they are increasingly avoiding information because the news is so anxiety-provoking?
To try to understand the mechanics of a cultural production that would make people want to take concrete action for the environment, ADEME (French agency for the environment), Place To B and BVA Group followed a panel of 40 people for three months. These respondents spontaneously explored audiovisual works dealing with ecological issues and had to react to selected works.
Cassandras can’t convince
Unsurprisingly, environmental cultural works most often generate negative emotions (fear, anger, frustration), associated with anxious imaginings. Panelists express a strong weariness with morality, guilt (“good guys versus bad guys”) and extreme messages. The feeling of powerlessness associated with the idea of “self-righteousness” even leads to rejection.
The dystopian genre creates uneasiness by giving the feeling of being unable to act and of lacking solutions. The series The Collapse, however popular, has thus “suffocated” a part of the respondents. Despite their success, disaster movies do not mobilize either. Disaster Porn”, the voyeuristic pleasure of watching the apocalypse, leaves the viewer crushed by the absence of solutions and often bored by worn-out scenarios.
Mobilization, instructions for use
It is therefore useless or counterproductive to repeat the scientific evidence of the deadly dangers of climate change. The majority of viewers look for joy and surprise in popular culture. The study shows the particularly strong impact of humor. To convince the audience, therefore, it will be necessary to talk about overstepping planetary limits with levity.