Al Gore: Unpacking the inconvenient truths of Gore’s celebrity activism

P. David Marshall, Glenn D’Cruz, Sharyn McDonald

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter interrogates Al Gore’s persona as a climate change activist with reference to a process we describe with the neologism “personafication”: the act of constructing/presenting a public persona in order to cultivate impressions that enable public figures to consolidate authoritative reputations. The formation of such a commanding persona requires the circulation of three forms of symbolic capital: cultural, celebrity, and reputational capital as well as the performance of overtly theatrical strategies calculated to establish an empathetic relationship between performer and audience. In 2006, former Vice President Al Gore released the award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. This film subsequently functioned as a catalyst for various forms of climate change activism. This chapter unpacks the contradictory ideological and cultural work performed by the film with reference to what we describe as un geste suffit, that is, those gestures that merely perform individual agency in order to connect the formulation of personal ethical identity to communal forms of political activism like environmentalism. Through a close reading of the presentation of Gore’s persona in the film itself, and research which tracks the reception and political efficacy of the film, this chapter contributes to the growing body of scholarship on the politics of environmental/scientific communication. Finally, we locate our reading of Gore’s film within a contemporary context by making reference to the way An Inconvenient Truth is both resistant to and complicit with the environmental policies of the Trump administration.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Global Sustainability
EditorsRobert Brinkmann
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030389482
ISBN (Print)9783031019487
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 01 Jun 2022


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