Eco Honors: Avatar & Bones Earn Accolades from the Environmental Media Association


Avatar director and writer James Cameron with his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron, at the 19th Annual Environmental Media Association Awards.

The Environmental Media Association (EMA) hosted its 19th Annual EMA Awards on Saturday, October 16th. The awards honor those in entertainment media who promote environmental awareness and encourage activism and reform. Awards were given in seven film and television categories, as well as two special awards: the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Corporate Responsibility Award.

Upon arrival, distinguished guests made their way down the green carpet to talk with members of the press. Speaking with Vegetarian Times, Mark-Paul Gosselaar of TNT’s Raising the Bar, best known for playing Zac Morris in Saved by the Bell, said that members of the entertainment community have the unique opportunity to inspire people to go green: “It’s so easy to live a green lifestyle, even if it’s just turning off your lights or shutting off the faucet when you’re not using it,” Gosselaar said. “If you can teach someone or inspire someone who follows us into doing the same, then we are making an impact.”

Making an impact was the mantra of the evening. The notion that Hollywood must use its voice to invigorate the public and motivate them to action echoed throughout the night.

Certainly the television drama Bones lives up to that expectation. The episode “The Tough Man in the Tender Chicken” won top honors for Television Episodic Drama. The episode deals with animal rights issues as the Jeffersonian team investigates the murder of a chicken farm owner set to inherit a controversial factory farm known for animal cruelty. On the green carpet, Bones star Michaela Conlin talked about why this episode was so special to the cast: “Emily Deschanel, the lead of our show, is an animal rights activist and really tries to shepherd stories that are important to her.” Conlin added, “so this episode came out of us learning that factory farming was really bad on the environment, and it came from [Deschanel’s] desire to have a story about animals.”

James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar was honored that night, winning the award in the Feature Film category. On the green carpet, Cameron emphasized that all forms of media must come together to raise awareness and encourage people to be proactive in protecting the environment: “Avatar created an emotional feeling on the part of a global audience that we need to do something about what we’re doing to the natural world, but it didn’t tell them what to do…this is where other aspects of the media come into play to educate and teach people what they need to do.”

After the green carpet arrivals, attendees braved light rain and cooler temperatures for the outdoor ceremony, held on the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, Calif. Media mogul Ted Turner received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his efforts to protect the environment. During his acceptance speech, Turner stressed the importance of the cause: "This is the greatest challenge that's ever faced humanity," he said. Turner owns ranches all over the United States, and is working to repopulate the once-endangered American bison. Turner is also known as the creator of the environmental-themed children's cartoon show Captain Planet and the Planeteers.

Producer Jeff Skoll accepted the Corporate Responsibility Award on behalf of Participant Media. The company produces documentaries and feature films that are often advocacy-based, such as An Inconvenient Truth, Food Inc., Syriana, and Oceans. In his acceptance speech, the former eBay president encouraged the media to continue producing movies with a message: "Entertainment can play an important role in creating a better world," he said.

After the ceremony ended, guests left feeling inspired to make lifestyle changes that are good for the planet. “I used to feel like I am only one person, and my choices can’t really improve the environment on a larger scale,” said Los Angeles resident Lauren Kelley. “But after being at this event and seeing all the support [the movement] has with members of the entertainment community, I honestly feel that if everyone contributed in small ways to keep our planet healthy, those small actions will all add up to something really special.”

—Anthony Howard, Editorial Intern