Earth Day for Dummies

April 23, 2019    Lillian Grant   5 min read

While the rest of us were heads down in our day jobs during Earth Day yesterday, many of us with the purpose of contributing to the daunting task of making headway towards saving the planet, Lil Dicky dropped his single, Earth.  Yah, I don’t know who he is either.  My guess is if you have a LinkedIn account, you won’t know who he is – but don’t take it personally.  If you have browsed iTunes in the last few days, this latest single is in the top 5 since its original release date of April 18, debuting at #4, charting in eight countries.

For those of you who might still be harbouring Palm Pilot accessories in the bowels of your dusty storage boxes, Mr. Dicky is an elder-millennial Jewish-American rapper and comedian. 

So What’s the Deal?

If you haven’t seen it, think seven-minute melange of short film, music video, cartoon, documentary, PSA and an oil tanker laden with f-bombs and other expletives.  It’s not for young children despite its brilliant animation.   It’s big budget with a star-studded compilation of over 30 AAA-List voices including Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Halsey, Snoop Dogg, Kevin Hart, Rita Ora, Miguel, Katy Perry and yes, I can only identify the obvious ones because I do own Palm Pilot accessories.

Earth Day Zebra

Not since the SDG’s  2015 “We The People For The Global Goals” video has the plight of the planet garnered such a wealth of celebrity vignettes.  If Daniel Craig, J-Lo, Stephen Hawking, Malala Yousafzai, Meryl Streep and Richard Branson (just to name a few), didn’t get your attention, nothing would. But how many people outside of the susty/CSR sphere are versed in this clever global PR campaign?  I can count tens of millions more views of marginally amusing cat videos on YouTube – embarrassingly disproportionate to the decidedly more heady subject of trying to abate the Earth’s imminent careening off the rails if we don’t act.  Yesterday.  Time is of the freaking essence.  The significance of the UN SDGs cannot be overstated in its relatively short period of global adoption and succinct capture of the goals to strive for – our collective purpose.  As far as frameworks go, it’s the “It Girl” of our day. But I just can’t picture Charlize Theron skipping a spa day to tout the GRI. No offense.

Remember this?

Put away your pitchforks, I’m not knocking the SDGs!  I’m a fan and so is my employer.  My point is that the traction is mostly with an esoteric crowd and what we need is everyone on board, aware, and ready to act.

So, while I wouldn’t recommend screening Lil Dicky and 30+ of his closest celeb friends’ Earth video to your PG crowd, I would have to say that despite the gratuitous cussing and crass overture, the message at the end is an education for those who don’t know we’re in the thick of reporting season right now. For those not included in the “Sustainarati”, this might be an interesting way to “get it”.  While we eat, breathe, sleep sustainability, it’s evasiveness and all its myriad monikers make it like trying to catch a rainbow in jar.  We’re trying – but it’s really hard.

Watch Earth Now

Got Cred?

I have to give props to Lil Dicky.  This song will have some longevity, accessibility to the masses and it’s also donating all iTunes profits towards efforts to get this movement – well, moving.  The end of the song lures you to a website that closes the loop, proving the song isn’t’ just folly.

You’ll be greeted on the home page by the unanimated version of Lil Dicky – at this stage he deserves to be called by his given name, David Burd – barefoot and full of facts in a 2.75 minute video where he narrates how we got here a la Sesame Street and how we have to act.  It’s delivered like someone who’s recently been enlightened by these grim facts with the enthusiasm of a foul-mouthed toddler with an enormous budget and media savvy telling everyone one he knows. Good on him.

The “How You Can Help” section of the home page is more than just taking your canvas bags to Dean and Deluca.  It’s rudimentary, but he is putting profits where his plastic straw isn’t. Supporting the song or copping some sustainable Earth merch will also funnel donations to various environmental organizations.  He’s a bit thin on what, who, how and why, and I suspect he’ll attract scrutiny for that, but the song’s only a few days old and he’s just gotten started.

So even though you might be able to run circles around this guy like a veteran, top-billed Sustainarati key note on a Q1 conference tour with a backpack full of lanyards to prove it, you have to give him credit where credit is due. Sift through the f-bombs and recognize that this susty neophyte has just given the Earth (3rd rock from the Sun, not the song), a violent shove into 5 alarm fire territory.  No amount of links to articles and white papers will have this effect.  He’s just mic-dropped what we have battled over at dinner parties for years where we’ve been labeled those “tree-hugging environmentalists”, a crude insult to our higher, collective purpose.  

I’m $1.29 lighter and interested to see where this goes.  Will it gain traction? Will he get panned by the academics and susty elite?  Only time will tell. But as someone who works daily to try to bring awareness to an essential global emergency and sharing ways to contribute to the solutions, he’s got my attention and the attention of some 28 million views on YouTube, (take that, Fluffy), and iTunes downloads still counting.  There’s a kid-friendly version but I didn’t bother to chase it down.