Chest Hair and Climate Change: Exploring the Embodied Geographies of Celebrity Environmentalism

Authors: David Kneas*, University of South Carolina
Topics: Cultural Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Environment
Keywords: Celebrity Environmentalism, Tropical Forests, Climate Change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Jackson, Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In 2008, Harrison Ford had his chest-waxed to promote the linkage between tropical deforestation and climate change, part of Conservation International’s new “Lost There, Felt Here” campaign. Despite its whimsical tone and gesture to chest waxing comedy, the Ford PSA underscores noteworthy shifts in popular environmentalism, from the celebritization of environmental issues to the growing cultural influence of large environmental NGOs. In this paper, I analyze the conditions of possibility that inform the emergence of chest hair and chest waxing within contemporary environmental discourse. I consider not only how Here and There are indexed through the body of Harrison Ford, but how chest waxing reflects the re-articulation of tropical forests around a metric of carbon and ecosystem services. Building on this critique, I then explore other contexts in which shifting forms of environmental knowledge and change are mapped onto and refracted through celebrity bodies and popular specters of embodied hair types, from the re-branding of the Honda Prius to celebrity-led environmental documentaries.

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