Tuesday, Sep. 22, 2009

Cameron Diaz

It's stupid for celebrities to talk about the environment. As soon as their earnest faces start earnestly telling us what we need to do, we think, "Of course you can afford solar panels. You could afford to fuel your house by paying people to blow on pinwheels."

So Cameron Diaz — who grew up asthmatic in Long Beach, Calif., where her dad worked on pipelines for Unocal and trucks dumped waste from the town's refinery at the end of her block — was smart enough not to talk. Instead, in a five-minute YouTube-friendly film, directed by Jesse Dylan (Kicking & Screaming) and released online in June, Diaz asks questions. In Cameron Diaz Saves The World! she drives her hybrid around the country, pulls over, adopts that weird, spread-legged stance of hers and asks random people, "Do you know where your water comes from?" With her goofball laugh and gawky movements she's like the anti-Jay Leno, not trying to stump people as much as say, "Of course we don't know. And we should probably find out." She's not telling people what to do so much as inviting them to do something — and making them realize that they want to. And she does what activists always forget to do: she makes the environment look like it's worth saving by focusing on how in touch with nature we already are. At one point, she asks a bunch of ducks, "Do you come to this park often?"

She also plays the laywoman, Skyping with experts for advice. But she's not nearly as uninformed as she makes out. Al Gore long ago gave her slide-show training, which means that An Inconvenient Truth has the worst casting error in movie history. She has shot public-service announcements, hosted a short-lived MTV show called Trippin, which made the environment look like the extreme sport it is, and worked with Gore to form Save Our Selves, which threw the Live Earth concert. She pays carbon offsets for all her travel and even more impressively, she announced on The Tonight Show that she does not flush after urinating. Diaz got the idea for the video when she realized that unlike Britney and Paris, the planet didn't have a publicist. It does now.