Is this the new face of altruism?
22 May 2006, 11:31
by Marybelle Stryk
I don't know if it's only me but lately there seems to be a bombardment of celebrities supporting some worthy cause. The deluge must have started when U2's Bono & Bob Geldof invited hundreds of artists to perform at the G8 concert last year. Then there's Angelina Jolie, and her equally famous partner Brad Pitt, attending the recent global economic summit and fighting for human rights. Australian actress Nicole Kidman supporting women's rights and gender equality through UNIFEM and her best friend actress Naomi Watts joined in by taking up HIV/AIDS issues with UNAIDS.
And it's not only the so-called "big" stars jumping in the bandwagon or the "big" UN agencies. There's Australian singer Natalia Imbruglia helping to end fistula, a childbirth injury affecting more than 2 million women in the developing world, for "a lesser known” UN agency, UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Even Ricky Martin and his Foundation established partnerships with the International Organization for Migration to prevent human trafficking and help victims of this sad, sad trade.
There's no question, these are grave issues that have to be tackled not only by governments, international bodies like the UN, or non-profit organizations but, like what these celebrities preach, should also be a burden to "ordinary people".
These famous people prompt us to act, volunteer, spread banners and take to the streets, prod our politicians to make the right decisions and give funds for the right projects. Or did they just want us to snap our fingers and buy white bands? (Which sold millions by the way.)
What exactly do they want? Do they know what they're talking about? Is this volunteering? Is it annoying because it looks, sounds and feels hypocritical and pretentious? Should I feel pretentious if I support a celebrity's cause?
Toronto Star's Carol Goar also asks, referring to the fistula problem, "But what does it say about us that we'll pay attention to a minor celebrity, yet ignore aid groups, African doctors and representatives of the World Health Organization who have tried to highlight this problem for years?"
She writes, maybe this is "the face of altruism in 2006. Maybe there is no other way to jolt a media-saturated society into sharing a bit of its wealth."
Is there really no other way?