Do as I say, not as I do. By definition, celebrities and public figures attract a lot of attention, and not all of it is wanted. But what do you make of one such public figure when what they say is in sharp contrast to some of the things they do?
Enter Leonardo DiCaprio, the latest celebrity to be labeled – and consequently shamed – in the public sphere for being a hypocrite. An eco hypocrite, to be specific.
In the final days of 2021, DiCaprio and his entourage traveled to St. Barts, which has seen an almost unprecedented accumulation of one-percenters and their multi-million superyachts. As the clock ticked on 2021, many of these one-percenters gathered to celebrate together. Among them was Leonardo DiCaprio, who, it has emerged, has been chartering a $150 million superyacht for the special occasion.
That yacht is Vava II, a 97-meter (318-foot) vessel owned by billionaire entrepreneur Ernesto Bertarelli. Offering a generous volume of 3,930 GT, it comes with accommodation for 36 guests and 34 crew, its own helipad, and an impressive top speed of 20 knots thanks to four powerful MTU diesel engines. Vava II is a gorgeous and impressive luxury toy, and as such, it’s the right choice for a celebrity like DiCaprio and his small party of friends.
As it turns out, DiCaprio is still vacationing on Vava II. The Daily Mail reports that the yacht has been idling away in St. Barts, traveling no more than a mile (1.6 km) a day, as the privacy-obsessed actor takes in the sun, visits local beaches, and indulges in a variety of watersports.
To someone not aware of DiCaprio’s second biggest passion after acting, this seems like the perfect life. Who of us wouldn’t trade places with him in a blink of an eye? Vacations in remote locations, idle days spent tanning, while an army of servers caters to every whim and desire. Friends to chat with, a gorgeous young girlfriend, and no care in the world about having to mix with people outside your own social bubble.
The gist is that DiCaprio is not a regular celebrity, but a diehard environmentalist. He is the kind of celebrity who tells everyone else they must cut down on their airplane travel, avoid cruises, drive less, and make wiser dietary choices. He does it while he’s on private planes that take him to private yachts like Vava II, which is to say, while using two of the highest polluting means of travel.
The aforementioned outlet did some math, and came up with exact figures to quantify DiCaprio’s so-called eco hypocrisy. “[Vava II] produces as much carbon by sailing just seven miles [11 km] as an average car belches out in a year,” we learn. “[It] produces 238 kg [525 lbs] of carbon dioxide per mile – almost as much as the average British car emits in two months.”
Fueling up Vava II for a 5,700-mile (9,173-km) journey costs an estimated $340,000. Put it in blunter terms, sailing on his luxurious ship is expensive both for the seafarer and our environment, but the focus should be, given DiCaprio’s environmentalist stance, on the latter.
Most celebrities defend themselves from this kind of criticism by saying that, just because they pledge alliance to a cause doesn’t mean they want to be role models. Bill Gates has done it several times, arguing that his promotion of a cause outweighs his personal contribution to the climate crisis. Anything is better than nothing, is the takeaway from his previous statements, and it seems to apply to how DiCaprio is leading his life as well.
This piece isn’t meant to “drag” or “shame” DiCaprio and other celebrities like him. It’s also not meant to encourage aggressive conversations on the topic, or comparisons. Take it, if you will, as a way of saying that, if you want change, you’d best start with the man in the mirror, as the late Michael Jackson once said. You can’t expect the world around you to change and then be surprised when it doesn’t, because you haven’t.