Filter environmental concerns through the MTV sensibility and you’ve got VH-1’s Ground Zero, a high-tech, low-substance half-hour that represents the show-biz race toward eco-trendiness at its most irritating. Each week’s installment uses rock videos, factoids, and celebrity sound bites to explore a different facet of the ecosystem. A few weeks ago a segment on deforestation began with Talking Head David Byrne. ”The earth is our mother,” he explained. In case anyone missed the idea, the show also presented Byrne’s sound-bite outtakes, in which he said it again, and again.
Other music celebs dot the half-hour, ranging from the unlikely (David Crosby, pleading for a return to ”values”) to the much too likely: Can anyone bear to listen to another harangue from Sting? The talkers aren’t on for very long, but the fidgety camerawork won’t leave them alone — it turns them blue, distorts their faces through fun-house mirrors, or makes them look like stop- motion puppets. And before anything goes on for too long, the show cuts away to a music video.
When Ground Zero does offer informational snippets, they don’t add up to much more than ”Recycling good, polluting bad.” Hard to argue with that, but viewers who care about the environment — presumably, they’re the ones who are watching — deserve a little more than this cynical attempt to hitch a ride on 1990’s issue of the moment. C-