During the 2010 New York Auto Show, Lexus hosted a debate to hype its new hybrid, the CT 200h. Dubbed "The Darker Side of Green", the face-off featured eco-tech enthusiast Amanda Little, global-warming denier Phelim McAleer, and moderator Sarah Silverman. We were very, very dubious.
But by most accounts (this one's pretty typical), the debate went well. Silverman was stellar, and the event drew a goodly number of hipster trendsetters -- a major demographic for luxury hybrid cars. All of which probably explains why Lexus is adding more debates to the list, moderated by comedians Andy Samberg, Tracy Morgan, and Jamie Kennedy.
As weird as this promotion may sound, it's actually a safe bet for Lexus -- mostly because the outcome of the debates is a foregone conclusion. As a high-profile hybrid vehicle, any event centered around the CT 200h is going to draw a predominantly eco-minded crowd that'll be rooting for the green side. And just to give those progressives an enemy to boo, the debators that Lexus has put on the anti-green side are all older, white men (except for Steve Everley, who's a younger white man). Worse, they're all billed as climate-change deniers, which in 2010 is only about two steps shy of being Holocaust-deniers. Lexus could hire Kukla, Fran, and Ollie to moderate these debates, and it wouldn't change a thing.
Still, Lexus has to ensure that the trendsetters show up. To make that happen, there'll be receptions after each of the debates, featuring music from New York underground legends The Misshapes, indie darlings the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and financier-turned-DJ Paul Sevigny, who just happens to be the older brother of A-1 hipster goddess Chloe Sevigny. More importantly, there's free booze: "libations provided compliments of Patrón Spirits for attendees’ responsible enjoyment." But is that Lexus-responsible or Tracy Morgan responsible?
If you live in or near LA, Miami, New York, or Chicago, check out the press release below, which offers a lot -- a lot -- more detail about the coming events. Just don't bother with the "Dark Side" website. You've been warned.
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LEXUS INTRODUCES ‘THE DARKER SIDE OF GREEN’ DEBATE SERIES TO SHOWCASE THE CT 200h
Series brings together environmental thought leaders and a star-studded list of moderators to encourage discussion between opposing sides on ‘green issues’
Torrance, Calif. - July 6, 2010 – To introduce the all-new CT 200h premium compact hybrid in the U.S., Lexus is expanding on its unprecedented ‘green issues’ debate by presenting a series of lively discussions between proponents and skeptics of climate change.
Welcome to the darker side of green.
Designed to inspire a new audience to consider luxury hybrid vehicles, the debates will be moderated by some of entertainment’s most intriguing personalities, including Andy Samberg, Jamie Kennedy, Tracey Morgan, and Mark McGrath. They will also host many of the leading environmental thinkers on both sides of the discussion – environmental advocates Simran Sethi, Amanda Little, Eric Bates, and David Roberts and climate change skeptics Phelim McAleer, Christopher Horner, Lord Monckton, and Steve Everley.
The original Lexus debate, held on March 30, 2010, was moderated by the one-and-only Sarah Silverman and included a global warming debate between renewable energy advocate Amanda Little and skeptic Phelim McAleer. This new series of debates will expand on the success of the original event and will be just as thought provoking.
“Lexus hybrid vehicles seamlessly brings together two different lifestyle characteristics – unabashed luxury and modern green technology,” said Andrea Lim, Lexus events marketing manager. “Expanding our debate series helps to reinforce the message embodied in the CT 200h - that two behaviors, not often found side by side, can successfully merge and become a way of life.”
The first debate in the series, moderated by digital shorts auteur Andy Samberg, will be in Los Angeles on July 8, and features an exchange between Emmy Award-winning journalist Simran Sethi and journalist, skeptic, and filmmaker Phelim McAleer. Sethi is an associate professor at the University of Kansas, where she teaches courses on sustainability and environmental communications. She is also the founding host/writer of the Sundance Channel’s “The Green” and has been lauded by media as the “environmental messenger.” In 2006, Irish journalist and filmmaker McAleer produced Mine Your Own Business, one of the first films that asked difficult questions of the environmental movement. His 2008 documentary, Not Evil Just Wrong, explores what McAleer views as the negative impacts of green policy and questions scientific claims made by prominent global warming proponents.
When asked how he thought Sethi and McAleer would get along, Samberg responded, “I mean, I don’t wanna say I EXPECT it to turn ugly, but if it did, I’m not gonna break it up. It’s the only real way to know the truth about global warming.”
The second debate, to be held in Miami on July 20, will be moderated by stand-up master Jamie Kennedy. The exchange will include author and sustainable energy advocate Amanda Little, and author and climate policy skeptic Christopher Horner. Moved earlier in her journalistic career by the events of 9/11 and the 2003 NYC blackout, Little set out on a cross-country journey to investigate the United States’ energy use. The result was Power Trip, a book chronicling America’s history and relationship with fossil fuels, as well as Little’s perspective on the most promising renewable energy technologies. Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and has represented scientists and members of congress on matters of environmental policy in forums as high as the Supreme Court. He has written several books on global warming, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism and Red Hot Lies. Horner received his Juris Doctorate from Washington University.
In the third installation, scheduled for July 27 in New York City, a green exchange will be moderated by the Tracey Morgan and brings together two provocative speakers on the environment – Eric Bates and The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. Bates is executive editor of one of the most influential magazines in the country - Rolling Stone. Its controversial cover story, entitled You Idiots! discussed the international debate over global warming and listed its picks of the climate’s worst enemies. Author, journalist, and public speaker The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, known widely as Lord Monckton, is a former policy advisor to U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. During his tenure as policy advisor, Monckton’s advice was to take seriously the issue of global warming. He has since become one of the world’s leading global warming skeptics.
The final debate in the series will be held on August 5 in Chicago and will be moderated by famed singer Mark McGrath. Featured debaters include David Roberts and Steve Everley. Roberts, staff writer for the heralded environmental news site Grist.org, is known widely for his focus on finding concrete solutions to our energy problems. He is a respected pundit and rising voice in environmental media that has made a name among the eco-literati as a formidable vblog debater. Everley is the manager of policy research at American Solutions and contributing author to Newt Gingrich’s To Save America. He graduated with the highest distinction from the University of Kansas. Everley and Roberts have had an ongoing online debate about energy and global warming issues that will come to life offline at this event.
Each debate will be followed by a chic, music saturated, reception, –with libations provided compliments of Patrón Spirits for attendees’ responsible enjoyment. DJ sets will vary per city and will include dance floor favorites The Misshapes, Paul Sevigny, Myles Hendrik, Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the duo Harley & Cassie.
As a visual representation of the debate series message, Lexus commissioned Nondesigns, a Los Angeles based design studio, to create an artistic representation of the CT 200h that will be displayed at the debates. Specializing in creating objects that carry on a dialogue with their surroundings, Nondesigns created a magnificent pixilated interpretation of the compact premium hybrid that treats viewers to the two personalities of the vehicle. When viewers walk around the art installation, entitled the CT Umbra, they experience a change in color from luxurious gold hues to organic tints of green and blue - representing the two seemingly contradictory perspectives of Lexus’ fifth hybrid.
“Lexus designed the CT 200h to have higher fuel mileage and lower emissions, without sacrificing the fun,” said David Nordstrom, Lexus vice president of marketing. “CT 200h brings energy to the new compact premium hybrid segment with its sleek styling and dynamic handling.”
The Lexus CT 200h was styled with optimum aerodynamic efficiency. Its size, packaging and hybrid technology meet the requirements of the discerning, environmentally conscientious consumer in the emerging premium compact market. It offers no compromise on the quality, refinement and driving pleasure that hallmark the progressive luxury inherent in every Lexus.
Lexus engineers paid particular attention to the driving dynamics of the CT 200h. Its fun-to-drive experience is aided by the lowest possible center of gravity for the car, enhanced structural rigidity, unique lateral stabilizers to minimize unnecessary engine movements, a custom suspension design, and a front and rear body-damping system – a first to the Lexus line-up to minimize undesirable body vibrations. All of these design elements help ensure the handling prowess of the CT 200h without sacrificing the unequaled comfort to which Lexus drivers have become accustomed.
The Darker Side of Green debate series will undoubtedly be THE green happening of the summer. To schedule an interview, or to attend a Darker Side of Green debate, please contact Adryana Cortez at 323.906.0726 or [email protected]. For more information on the Lexus CT 200h, visit darkersideofgreen.com or contact Nancy Hubbell at 310.468.7633 or [email protected].
Debate Series Details:
Thursday July 8, 2010
Debaters: Simran Sethi vs. Phelim McAleer
Moderated by Andy Samberg
Music provided by Paul Sevigny and Myles Hendrik
Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday July 20, 2010
Debaters: Amanda Little vs. Christopher Horner
Moderated by Jamie Kennedy
Music provided by The Misshapes and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Tuesday July 27, 2010
Debaters: Eric Bates vs. The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Moderated by Tracey Morgan
Music provided by Harley & Cassie, and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
New York, NY
Thursday August 5, 2010
Debaters: David Roberts vs. Steve Everley
Moderated by Mark McGrath
Music provided by The Misshapes