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Posts Tagged ‘Environmentalism’

Almost nobody likes commercials. Since technologies such as VCRs, DVRs and TiVo are now available, many people prerecord TV shows and skip through the commercials. So marketers and advertisers are trying to come up with commercials that we are willing to watch, or that we cannot get around watching (for example, because they are part of the TV show itself). I am not usually a fan of commercials; I usually only watch prerecorded TV precisely because I can skip the ads.

The Box Art for LittleBigPlanet2

But last night, I was playing LittleBigPlanet2 and I ended up playing a commercial for the Prius (Part 2 of the level is here). The level is published by “LittleBigPartner” and is described as:

Join Sackboy* as he solves puzzles in his treehouse and takes his Prius for a drive in the city. With the objects you collect here, create your own Prius-inspired level for a chance to win a Sony Bravia 3D HDTV and other prizes. Visit http://www.us.playstation.com/psn/events/littlebigprius.html for more details. NOTE: Name your contest levels “Prius_[Your Level Name]” in order to enter.

The contest has been pretty popular, and there are now a number of Priusthemed user-made levels. From a marketing perspective, this is probably a great campaign. It encourages people to spend a lot of time thinking about the Prius and how to use it in a level they are creating. The Prius car, and various other objects (like wind turbines, and so forth) are given away in the level, and users are encouraged to use “as many of the collected objects as possible” (at 0:59) in their own levels. This allows Toyota a degree of control over the kinds of messages that users create in their levels. The objects that are given away are all associated with environmental themes and alternative energy sources.  If a user incorporates these objects, there is a good chance that the level will end up with a theme that associates the Prius and environmentalism.

Since LBP2 includes the user “LittleBigPartner” I am quite sure that there will be many more of these commercial levels in the future. Perhaps this is a good marketing strategy, for the reasons I described above, but I found it really off-putting. First, I was annoyed because I found the level through the “Media Molecule Picks” and in the past Media Molecule had always featured levels made by regular players, rather than advertisement levels. I felt tricked when I played this level, because I expected a user level, but instead got an advertisement. Second, the contest feels more insidious that previous contests. Both LittleBigPlanetCentral and LittleBigLand have held contests in the past, but these contests did not promote a particular product. This contest seems to be piggy-backing on the work done by previous competitions in the LittleBigPlanet game-universe.

*Note the use of the “universal” or “gender-neutral” “he” and “Sackboy,” which I complained about before.

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This is a guest post from OpenContinuity. OpenContinuity is an environmental ethics theorist and activist who works on questions about the self and the self’s relation to the environment.

“Social action without theory is blind, but theory without social action is empty.”
-Michael Zimmerman

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.”
-Karl Marx

Given the current ecological crisis, a methodology is needed for knitting theoretical ethics and activism together more closely. Environmentalists who work to mitigate anthropocentric ecological destruction have much to gain from the argumentative force of theoretical ethics, and philosophers have much to gain from a more fluid exchange of ideas with those whose primary work is environmental activism. Through analyzing the epistemic function of metaphors within ethics, the limitations of a foundationalist ontology are revealed. Adopting a pluralistic approach enables utilizing the multiple ethical tools that are presently available, while simultaneously facilitating the introduction of new theoretical developments. I recommend a relational approach to both environmental theory and practice that is sensitive to the differing issues and responsibilities that are manifest at individual, local, national, and global levels. Moreover, consideration of temporal and epistemic limitations must factor in to both short and long term recommendations for action. I use the environmental issue of marine waste as a case study to show the virtues of the methodology I recommend for environmental praxis. Both environmental activists and environmental ethicists benefit from a methodology that encourages discourse where two intersect.

(more…)

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