“Climate change is something I’m only ever confronted with in a sad/ guilty way,” says the 31-year-old musician.
If you’re not a nu metal fan, that’s OK: The conversation that Canadian musician Grimes kicked off with her announcement of a new concept album about climate change isn’t about the music or fashions.
Instead, Grimes – her real name’s Claire Boucher – touched a nerve when she said that a new work titled “Miss_Anthrop0cene” was supposed to make climate change fun.
“Climate change is something I’m only ever confronted with in a sad/ guilty way…. Reading news and whatnot,” the 31-year-old artist said in an Instagram reveal. “So my goal is to make climate change fun.”
Grimes intends to do that by creating an anthropomorphic goddess of climate change, a “psychedelic, space-dwelling demon beauty-queen who relishes the end of the world.” She describes the concept album as an ethereal nu metal work with each song reflecting a different aspect of human extinction.
“I mean, everybody loves a good villain,” she said, “so maybe it’ll be a bit easier to look at if it can exist as a character and not just abstract doom.” Miss_Anthrop0cene is meant as an embodiment of the issue in the same way that the ancients had gods of war, or love, or the sea.
“Welcome to the end of the world,” Grimes says on Twitter. While she definitely has a carefully curated presence, she also has the attention of the journal Nature and a new Wall Street Journal interview that’s taking a high-octane message (fossil fuel reference unintended) beyond the confines of the reliably trendy music and culture critics.
So far, while fans are excited about the forthcoming release – and wondering if she’s still dating Elon Musk – the real buzz has been about whether or not climate change can or should be fun.
“It’s fun. I want to make climate change fun. People don’t care about it, because we’re being guilted. I see the polar bear and want to kill myself,” she told WSJ Magazine. “No one wants to look at it, you know? I want to make a reason to look at it. I want to make it beautiful.”
Not everyone agrees, for what should be obvious reasons. That was especially true among people following the latest news on Mozambique’s coastal catastrophe, the dire United Nations report on collapse of the Arctic ecosystem, or the climate-related policy battles in the run-up to the European Union summit.
“The concept of turning ecological collapse into a fun, fantasy album about a goddess reveling in mass extinction because you’re tired of feeling guilty is unbelievably insensitive,” said one response.
“How does that justify ‘making climate change fun,’ is she trying to bring attention to it by singing about it in a casual and non-serious way? Some things shouldn’t be made fun to make people care, because making them so turns them from a problem into a fun cool gimmick,” observed another.
On the other hand, some insisted the backlash missed the point: It’s “easy to make fun of this Grimes quote out of context, but I think she was getting at the debate on how to communicate about climate change, and whether the way we communicate it is too pessimistic and demotivates readers.”
Plus, Grimes has embraced environmental themes in the past. “There’s nothing ‘fun’ about climate change,” acknowledged one self-declared fan, who balanced that with “I’m looking forward to hearing the album and seeing what she has to say.”