Pop Culture

Leonardo DiCaprio Defends Himself From Attack From Brazilian President

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is undoubtedly not putting Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood on his awards season ballot, as the guy has clearly got a weird hate for Leonardo DiCaprio.

The right-wing politician has garnered himself numerous critics since he took office this January, especially from environmentalists. (The American Museum of Natural History in New York cancelled a rental of their space from a group planning to honor him this past April.) At issue is a noticeable spike in destruction of Amazonian rainforest since his presidency began, and the weakened environmental protections his administration has put into place. Bolsonaro claims that environmental groups hamper economic development and exaggerate problems. When a government scientist showed him data, that scientist was fired.

In August, Bolsonaro took the unusual route of blaming non-governmental organizations of secretly being behind a series of raging fires. It would make for one hell of a story if true, but he offered no evidence to support this claim.

On Friday, he brought the fight to Hollywood. While giving remarks at the Presidential residence in Brasilia, he suggested that DiCaprio was secretly financing these groups to wreak environmental havoc. “This Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right? Giving money to torch the Amazon,” he said.

The Inception-level plot is that DiCaprio gave money to groups, who deployed volunteer firemen to start fires, capture images for social media and then raised money from this. While four firefighters were arrested and released last week in Brazil, there is no evidence for Bolsonaro’s claims and especially no evidence for a DiCaprio connection.

DiCaprio, whose environmental activism goes back over 20 years, took to his Instagram page to defend himself. He denied any connection to the groups that were implicated by Bolsonaro, and also took the step to call those groups “worthy of support.”

DiCaprio’s social media channel, which has over 38 million followers, is used almost exclusively to regram and signal boost fellow activists, with the very occasional “hey, I’ve got a new movie out this Friday.” If you worked with Brad Pitt , Margot Robbie and Quentin Tarantino and could tell 38 million people you’d do it, too.

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