They weren't expecting that. If you haven't heard of these shenanigans then let me enlighten you:
The 1010 guys have been background blurting for weeks about their excitement to be working with Richard Curtis. Franny Armstrong sent out a mail last week bubbling over with "Yay!" at how brilliantly well it had turned out. Then they released it.
The film is a pisstakey, deliberately over the top take on people's inaction given the increasing state of emergency we're in. Here is is, in all it's gory, sorry, glory: Guardian link to 1010's short film. Who would I say "don't watch it" to as a warning... anyone who is a grumpy denier type, young children, people who don't like gore, and absolutely, definitely no one who was in close proximity to the 7/7 attacks, or similar (actually, you know, I'm not taking the piss about the last section there. Don't watch it, it's people blowing up in close proximity to other people).
The reaction I think you could politely say was polarising. I can't see many people who said "I love it! It's hilarious!", but I can see many, many people who think it's a disgrace, and disgusting and so on. Myself, I'm a bit... ok. I think the huge problem with it is that in discussion with the guardian when the film was released, Franny Armstrong stated "Because we have got about four years to stabilise global emissions and we are not anywhere near doing that. All our lives are at threat and if that's not worth jumping up and down about, I don't know what is", yet that message - the urgency message appears nowhere in the film at all. The increasing desperation of those who support action for climate change is what fired this film, got the 1010 lot all a bit too over excited and they made the fatal mistake of (a) thinking that Richard Curtis is so universally loved and perceived as funny, the film message didn't need to be audience tested (I'm guessing that one) and (b) forgetting that they were going out to a mass audience. not just a mass audience by the way, but a *global* mass audience.
I've been fascinated by the responses, on an NGO-ish type level and a grass roots one. The messages from prominent climate change activist organisations and blogs, like 350.org or Climate Progress has been universal condemnation. and I means really, really fast too. They shrank away from the film instinctively, knowing it was going to be poisonous, and they're going to let 1010 deal with the fallout on their own. Joe Romm's comment at the bottom of the post goes further in his outright condemnation. I think I can sum up the 'officialdom' reaction:
-Oh shit, what the hell did they think they were doing?
-This is going to reflect badly on everyone
-We're all about positive phraseology and inclusion, you must always talk about winning people over, not get angry with deniers!
-We'd better all get press releases out washing our hands or the mass of nice but gentle folk who support us are going to think we're all mad terrorists or something (go back to first response)
The response from the ground is *amazing*, if not actually surprising. The vast lasers of hatred at fucking greeny fascist bastards trying to tell us what to fucking do have been beamed at 1010, and I would hazard a guess that it doesn't really matter what they do from now on, those voices are not going to go away. It's not so much the tone, that is the surprise, but it's the volume. This is where 1010's misjudgement has scored heavy minus points. I don't think they took account of just how much a negative impact means to an international organisation. We're used to people complaining. People always do, but it's manageable. The glories of the web mean that the stream of people complaining runs in to the tens of thousands, and quickly. And each of those horrified people will be galvanising one or two of their friends. Even worse than the potential of that is that 1010, very sensibly, had their website built to heavily rely on the 'free' ability to include Facebook discussions as the commentary on all of their blog posts. They obviously also have a strong Facebook presence. Facebook is more massive as a global presence than its users really take in to account. One's computer screen is an intimate space. Facebook itself in its primary use is relatively intimate, being a conversation between you and your friends. The more public elements seem to remain shrouded in its cosy "just me and you" exterior. It is an extraordinary tsunami creator for public opinion. The poor buggers at 1010 are currently swamped with opinion, some of which it would be kind to say, is a little harsh.
The grass roots reaction can be summed up as follows:
-Huh, that's a little bit funny but isn't it a bit misguided?
-Green fascist bastards want to kill us all if we don't agree with them
-(this is an interesting one) The only people who are killed in the film are white (that's scraping the barrel a bit, isn't it)
-Doesn't it allude to suicide bombing thus making you eco-terrorists?
-It's middle class well meaning earnest types blowing up the working classes
-how much of our taxes went on this filth!!! (ans btw: none)
...and lastly, I will use any of the above and more to complain, given that I am a climate denier and thus I will be REALLY VERBALLY ABUSIVE TO ANYONE WHO THINKS THE FILM IS OK!!!!
...of course its the category in the last camp that's the real problem here. They'll never let go and they will email every single organisation who has shown support for 1010, trying to force the org to become isolated and broken. Hopefully orgs will have sensible enough PR departments to simply shrug, say "Oh well, they apologised. We don't agree with the film but we agree with the organisation" and move on.
It's fascinating watching this play out. The timing is dreadful - there's a global day of 'fun action' coming up on 10:10:10, which they and 350.org have both co-promoted. Somehow 1010 have got to brush the shit off their shoes, stand up and smile and move on.
My personal opinion is that in order for the organisation to be able to be seen to be publicly penitent, the figurehead of the org, Franny Armstrong, should resign. The org is no longer reliant on her boundless energy anyway, and she would be free to go and set something else up. People expect Franny to be a bit 'out there' (she was, after all, part of the whole McLibel thing) and if she took the rap it would take the heat out of the situation. They have to be able to visibly do something akin to the other organisations they work with ie: recoil from the film as if its poisonous. I don't think they will though, because they're a nice hardworking bunch who were all implicated anyway. What they should do is what a PR led org would do. And they're not really that sort of org.
Let's see what happens over the next week...