Why Lil Dicky made this star-studded Earth Day music video

"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.

  • Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
  • His new music video, "Earth," features artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheehan, Kevin Hart, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.

Lil Dicky dropped a new Earth Day-themed music video today that's being called the "We Are the World" of the digital era, and it features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment. But don't expect to see those artists in the video as themselves: The bulk of the 7-minute music video is sleekly animated, with artists cast as various animals: Justin Bieber is a baboon. Ariana Grande is a zebra. Ed Sheeran is a koala bear. You get the idea.

What's the joke-rapper's main goal?

"... to get people to give a shit about saving the Earth," Lil Dicky told Rolling Stone.

Dicky, who released his debut album in 2015, said his initial plan was to create a funny music video to raise money for environmental issues.

"It was always in my head that this was going to be something that helped raise money for environmental issues, but I didn't really know the facts," he told Rolling Stone. "I looked into it and was blown away. I didn't realize, remotely, that it was such an urgent, dire situation. I didn't know that we literally have 12 years to completely change how we do so many things on Earth, from a fundamental standpoint, or the damage will be irreversible and in our lifetimes we're going to experience such drastic impact. Upon realizing that, it went from a silly song about animals to, 'Oh my God, this is the most important thing I'll ever do.'"

"Earth" starts out in the real world, showing a group of children bullying a kid and toppling over a trash can. Dicky appears on the scene, and starts getting trash-talked by the much younger kids. As Dicky walks away, the kids follow, but one kid stays behind and notices that a mysteriously old-looking book had fallen out of the trashcan. When he opens it, he's transported into a magical animated world where Dicky plays a sort of everyman-caveman who soars across the planet, encountering various animals who spout off jokes in-sync to the music, like:

"Hi! I'm a baboon. I'm like a man, just less advanced, and my anus is huge!"

The video then takes a somewhat unexpected turn, as caveman-Dicky starts touring the modern world's countries and continents, injecting some sociopolitical commentary on top of the Earth Day stuff:

"These days it's like we don't know how to act, all these shootings, pollution, we under attack, on ourselves. Like, let's all just chill, respect what we built."

But "Earth" eventually gets around to its key message: We've got to do something soon about climate change.

"There are so many people out there who don't think global warming is a real thing. You know? We gotta save this planet. We're being stupid!" Dicky sings.

In an interview with Ellen Degeneres, Dicky, whose real name is David Burd, said the proceeds from the music video will go environmental organizations, and that Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental foundation will consult him on where the proceeds would best be invested.

"You, too, are in denial."

Dicky's video ends with the message that it's stupid not to believe in climate change. But some take that idea a step further, as seen a recent piece from David Wallace-Wells, a climate columnist at New York Magazine, titled: "You, Too, Are in Denial of Climate Change." Wallace-Wells argues that inaction about climate change is tantamount to denial, and that "simple belief in climate change is not enough to move the needle." According to the columnist:

". . . it should not be surprising that, even in many of the world's most progressive places, even in the moment of acknowledged environmental crisis, a sort of climate NIMBYism prevails. The cost of inaction is sort of unthinkable — annual deadly heat waves and widespread famine, tens of millions of climate refugees, global coastal flooding, and disasters that will cost double the world's present-day wealth. And so we choose, most of the time, not to think about it. This is denial, too, whatever you check on a survey about whether you 'believe' the climate is changing."

The origins of Earth Day

The U.S. has celebrated Earth Day since 1970, and, while it's not considered a federal holiday, the annual event has helped raise awareness and millions of dollars for environmental causes over the decades. What some may not realize is that Earth Day was born out of an ugly natural disaster: The Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969.

Ranked as the worst oil spill at the time, the spill resulted in some 100,000 barrels of crude oil being dumped into the waters off the coast near Santa Barbara, California. It's estimated that the disaster killed about 3,500 sea birds, as well as an unknown amount of dolphins, sea lions and elephant seals. The spill sparked widespread media coverage and public outrage, all of which put pressure on lawmakers to draft legislation that went on to support the nation's modern environmental movement.

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