“Un Geste Suffit”? Unpacking the Inconvenient Truths about Al Gore’s Celebrity Activism


  • David Marshall Deakin University, Australia
  • Glenn D'Cruz Deakin University, Australia
  • Sharyn Mcdonald Deakin University, Australia




celebrity activism, persona, Al Gore, climate change, An Inconvenient Truth (film)


The present work 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 paper 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, the paper 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.


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Author Biographies

  • David Marshall, Deakin University, Australia

    P David Marshall holds a professorship and personal chair in New Media, Communication and Cultural Studies at School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University.  He is the author of many books including Celebrity and Power (2014),Celebrity Persona Pandemic (2016), Persona Studies (2017), Advertising and Promotional Culture: Case Histories (2016), Web Theory (2003), New Media Cultures (2004), Fame Games (2000), and editor or co-editor of  Contemporary Publics (2016),  A Companion to Celebrity (2015), and The Celebrity Culture Reader (2006) along with many articles and book chapters that explore persona, fame, popular culture and online and new media. He is one of the founding editors of the journal Persona Studies. He was also the founder of M/C: Media and Culture  an online journal started in 1998. He regularly provides expert commentary on public persona, persona studies, celebrity and online culture. 

  • Glenn D'Cruz, Deakin University, Australia

    Glenn D’Cruz teaches drama and cultural studies at Deakin University, Australia. He is the author of Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis (Routledge, 2018), Teaching Postdramatic Theatre: Anxieties, Aporias and Dispositions (Palgrave, 2018) and Midnight’s Orphans: Anglo-Indians in Post/Colonial Literature (Peter Lang, 2006). He is the co-editor of Contemporary Publics: Shifting Boundaries in New Media, Technology and Culture (Palgrave, 2016) and the editor of  Class Act: Melbourne Workers Theatre 1987-2007 (Vulgar Press, 2007). He has published widely in national and international journals in the areas of theatre and performance studies, cinema studies and cultural studies.

  • Sharyn Mcdonald, Deakin University, Australia

    Dr Mcdonald researches and writes extensively on Reputation management, Social and environmental, partnerships, Cross-sector collaboration, Social responsibility (CSR and USR) and their integration into the study of risk communication, persona and public relations.  Dr Mcdonald further shares her interests through her teaching in public relations at Deakin University's Communication degree program at both the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.


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How to Cite

“Un Geste Suffit”? Unpacking the Inconvenient Truths about Al Gore’s Celebrity Activism. (2018). Persona Studies, 4(2), 62-82. https://doi.org/10.21153/psj2018vol4no2art757