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“Recyclops will have his revenge!” (Stephen Siperstein)

November 20, 2009

I thought you might enjoy these clips from recent episodes of two of NBC’s most popular shows: “The Office” and “30 Rock.”  They were included as part of NBC’s Green is Universal campaign week.   Initially I was skeptical of a large corporation trying to be “green,” but if you go to the website and pledge to carpool, power down your computer, use a reusable water bottle, or make any other of a number of green lifestyle choices, NBC will donate $1 to the FEED Foundation, which provides healthy meals to children around the world. And in case you were wondering, according to this blog on “green gossip” 30 Rock is one of the greener shows at NBC Universal: “In addition to their standard recycling efforts, the show no longer uses water bottles and has instead installed water filters. Their caterer also uses compostable products, and the offices have switched to chemical-free cleaning products. They also rent hybrids for both talent and crew.”  Maybe not the most dynamic environmental position, but I’ll take what I can get, and the clips are hilarious:

Andy: “That’s aersol spray, it’s terrible for the environment”

Dwight:  “Humans are terrible for the environment”

Could we read this clip as a critique of deep ecology?  Dwight’s Recyclops character moves progressively away from a “hippy ‘happy happy joy joy we’re all connected to nature'” environmentalist position and more towards the darker anti-humanist positions of deep ecology.  What happens when Recyclops is locked in an epic battle with Polluticorn?  When deep ecologists battle industry and corporations, when there is no room for collaboration and consilience?  The costumes may become more and more awesome, but the office suffers.  And so do citizens around the world, especially in developing countries

And here’s a link to Al Gore’s cameo on “30 Rock.” I think Gore is surprisingly charming and engaging on camera, and makes a powerful case for the need for both individual and political action.  Gore exhorts Kenneth to, “Recycle everything, including jokes,” and then re-uses a joke he made on an earlier episode of the show–classic 30 Rock self-referencing.  However, perhaps we could take Gore’s claim–that we should recycle jokes and maybe even other textual forms (poems, flash fiction, songs, even metaphors and similes)–seriously, and understand it as a concept of ecological or sustainable, poetics.  Or, more broadly, how could we make use of recycling and re-use, both conceptually and concretely, in our work in the humanities?

Such jumbled thoughts, and from watching green pop-culture.  Perhaps it would have been more ecological to just turn off the television?  Oh well, enjoy the clips!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2009 1:11 am

    Alas, 30 Rock is one of the few shows I don’t regularly watch. I did, however, catch the episode where Al Gore made this appearance, and I thought it did a nice job of satirizing what passes as environmentally conscientious behavior. That nerdy character seemed to nail the sanctimoniously obnoxious ‘greenie’ perfectly–a lot of talk about marginally effective moves. And at some point, Tina Fey’s character says something along the lines of “Are they really going to do something this year or just put that stupid green peacock in the corner of the screen?” after being told NBC is promoting a green week. I took the whole thing as a fine joke on the practical effect of it all. Really, how much are hybrid vehicles for cast and crew and compostable products going to do?

  2. December 8, 2009 6:49 pm

    Recycled humanities, huh? We could appropriate vintage scholarly personas (why waste time and carbon carving our own?) to create cyborg New Critics. You be Cl3@nth_Br00ks_2.0 and I’ll be the upgrade on Wi11i@m_Emps0n. (Too bad all the women in the academy can only choose between the D0r0thii_S@yers and D@m3_G@rdn3r models.)

    Morpheus: “Neo, formalism is here”
    Neo: “Can we still do close readings on digital poetry?”
    Morpheus: “Yes, but only in the matrix.”
    Neo: “Ok, but I’ll need to know a little bit about the author.”
    Morpheus: “The matrix is only a text. Assuming otherwise is the Intentional fallacy.”
    Neo: “Man, I guess I’m still new to this.”

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