Can hypocrites save the world?

via The Wolf of Wallstreet

DiCaprio gets heat for extravagant privileges while preaching eco-friendliness

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formally published in the Other Press. March 9, 2016

When Leonardo DiCaprio won his long-awaited Oscar for his role in The Revenant, we all cheered for his deserved award. But it was the subject matter of his long speech that caused some people to roll their eyes. DiCaprio has been a long-time activist. Time and time again we see him appearing on screen—not dressed in a tuxedo, but in a “regular” jacket or sweater, in boots, with a rugged beard—talking about the destruction of our environment.

His most notable cinematic contribution to that cause is his producer, narrator, and writer roles in the environmental documentary—an unofficial epilogue to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth— The 11th Hour.

We don’t need movies or movie stars to tell us about the environment. We all feel the change. This has been one of the warmest winters of my life. I’m concerned, but I don’t have time to be both an advocator and fulltime employee, making money to live. Many people feel the same way and are insulted when big shot celebrities rub it in. And when the Best Actor winner, some big shot multi-millionaire, is only talking the talk instead of walking the walk, people have the right to be angry.

DiCaprio was specifically called out for having a 16,000-horsepower private yacht, the Topaz. For someone who cares so much for the environment, sailing the seas on a luxurious, diesel-gas-guzzling vessel is surely counter-productive, right?

Now, I could go on about how DiCaprio is a hypocrite—and how the movie The Revenant did nothing to improve the lives of First Nations people, the very people DiCaprio sought to empower, but in fact marginalized them more—but I won’t. Because, as rich and arrogant as I’m sure Leo is, he is at least putting his free time into advocating good. Is he good? No. He’s a hypocrite. But I would rather take a hypocrite actor over one who is a woman-beating bigot. What can I say? I have low standards for my celebrities.

There are many bad traits in the world, and being hypocritical is a minor one. With that being said, is there any more DiCaprio could do without giving up his fortune? Probably. But why should he? He’s not God. He’s just a servant of God. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, he is doing very little, but he is still doing it. When you are one of the most powerful actors in the world, you can merely sit back and accept awards, or you can use your clout to announce a concern. Some people choose racial equality, other chooses gender equality, but Leo chooses nature conservation.

DiCaprio is not committing to his cause 100 per cent, we can all agree on that, but he is dedicating some of his time to it. That is more than what I can say about me… or even you. How much have you committed to saving the world, or any other cause?

Take a look at yourself the next time you criticize someone for wanting better in the world. The old idiom “Do as I say, not as I do” is one every parent has once evoked if not said. If the heart is in the right place, then the person is moving in the right direction. We humans are not perfect, and that is the very reason why the world will end with a hopeful whimper, or like The Departed.

Double negative

Image via Thinkstock

Why you might be concerned about the wrong things

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. November 18, 2015

What concerns us in day-to-day life differs from person to person; some worry about immediate problems such as deadlines and commitments, while others worried about situations that have no direct influence on them. I’m all for the former and not so much about the latter. We waste too much time concerned with aspects of the world that we cannot control, and when we do think that we are making a positive impact, we are often neglecting an issue closer to home.

The environment: it is the foundation of life upon Earth. Many of us make every effort to take care of it, but then again, we often forget to take care of ourselves—to protect ourselves. How often do I see commuters on bicycles swerving this way and that on the road without a helmet? I see it almost all the time, especially in urban areas. Riding a bike is better for the environment, but neglecting your safety is far from smart. Your wellbeing is a far bigger concern than the carbon you would emit into the air if you were driving.

The world at large is full of disruption and corruption. I remember this cliché line growing up: there are poor children in Africa that want what you have. Hell, there are poor children in Canada that want what I have. We often look at developing countries or countries in crisis, such as Syria, and offer our deepest sympathy. However, when we look at an unfortunate individual closer to home, what do we do? We call them lazy, we call them bums, and we call them stupid, and so on and so on. If you want to help people, start with those in your backyard.

Worrying is a type of escape, don’t deny it. Sometimes we get emotionally invested in things just so we can avoid the immediate problems with our lives. Look at sports for example. We put so much emotional weight on the performance of a group of people we don’t even know. The outcome has minimal effect on our lives. If we own a sports bar, we might benefit from the Canucks winning, but otherwise, it’s pretty much a way to misdirect attention from our own work ethics. We worry so much about how the Canucks, Whitecaps, and Lions are doing, but how often do we turn to our friends and family and show interest in their pursuits? Rarely. Working at an office or a restaurant is not as interesting as scoring a goal. Finishing an assignment is not as exciting as making the playoffs. But if you are worried about the successes and failures of complete strangers, why aren’t you worried about those who matter so much to you?

It’s okay to be farsighted now and then and be concerned about the world, but more often than not, we should look at what’s around us—there are problems everywhere that need to be solved. Let’s start with those.