The BP YouTube channel appeared as a suggested link on the side of a clip from Bambi. YouTube has served as a major cultural institution in our modern society. It directs our interests, provides access to mainstream popular and tickles our funny bone. The societal role of YouTube continues to expand as our information society becomes more and more reliant on technology. Across the globe, people are now using YouTube as a major mechanism of societal change. Social networking and viral videos have helped elect President Obama and overthrow Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.
It is not surprising that British Petroleum, which is viewed as one of the greatest environmental villains of the last decade, has turned to YouTube and other cultural outlets to spearhead its public relations campaign. The BP oil spill is an environmental catastrophe unlike other environmental woes of the past and present. Unlike global warming or deforestation in the Amazon that are far away or abstract issues, the BP oil spill washed up on our own shore, affected our own wallets and presented us with a singular villain to blame. Americans were willing to place blame at the feat of the BP much more quickly than to they would be able to look introspectively at their own actions for the root cause of Global Warming or deforestation. By being able to name a unique scapegoat and ignore all potential responsibility stemming from our veracious appetite for oil, we as a country were able to rally together and combat this “unnatural disaster” in a way that we will never be able to approach global warming.
Viewing the series of videos on the BP channel and listening to the individual stories of disaster on the Gulf and how “BP made it right” forced me to think about the concepts of root cause and the quick fix. As we discussed in class at the beginning of the semester our society longs for a simple explanations, a root cause, a scapegoat and a quick fix. The oil spill in the gulf seemingly had all of these characteristics this may seemingly explain why the catastrophe has all but disappeared from the public eye. Acknowledging these motivations and the important role they will play will be crucial as we go forward with environmental and global warming policy.