Celebrity activism could potentially be a great tool with which inspired teenagers would leave their screens (TV or computer) to go into the outside world and help make a difference. Learning to be selfless in a smart, dedicated kind of way would help decrease, if not eliminate the greed underlying many of the problems that started this crisis in the first place.
In reality, it’s much more a publicity stunt than anything else, accomplishing the contrary, i.e. increasing the importance of the self which can more easily lead to greed. The ‘feel-good’ message centred on the ‘amazing giving self’ is about all it’s really about, although it makes fans feel good about their favourite celebrities and not much else.
What should celebrity activism be
It should be about celebrities embracing a cause plaguing society that is also one that they are passionate about; it should be about them using the medium of the Internet to raise the awareness of their fans as they raise their own awareness (through, say, blogs? Ever heard of those?). It should be about said celebrity asking himself and his fans ground shaking questions about things that shouldn’t be taken for granted (although they often are). It should be about said celebrity engaging in high level discourses about said cause the fruits of which he can bring back to his fan base, encouraging them to start the same discourses at the local level.
Just imagine is Robert Pattinson did this! Were his legions of fangirls be mobilized, what change could this force create? I bet you we could have a human chain spanning the length of Africa were we to line up all Robert Pattinson fans. Imagine what that could do for food & water distribution to Zimbabwe!
Just imagine if Britney Spears did this! She could also make it look all slinky and cool, under a circus tent perhaps, with a snake around her neck and half-naked… Then again, maybe it’s a good thing that some celebrities aren’t into activism.
What celebrity activism is
Most of the time, celebrity activism is about going somewhere (the poorer the better), taking in a certain project, take pictures that look particularly poignant (usually with cute kids), come back to North America, do a couple of interviews, and then… Things gets back to normal.
What? I’m not being bitter or cynical, this is just the way it is.
OK, so maybe I’m being a tiny bit cynical.
While what celebrities are doing is definitely better than doing nothing at all, the unfortunate truth is that many think that it’s more than enough. That’s where the real problem lies.
I see the same type of attitude in the day to day life of non-celebrities, too; people are so happy with themselves because they donated to food banks for Christmas. “I’m such a good person,” they tell themselves as they head home, feeling all warm and fuzzy. And yes, they are good people… But a little foolish. Because as good as their action is, it doesn’t really change much. These actions are just little Band-Aids here and there that cover the cuts for a little while longer before they fester and grow some more, needing even bigger Band-Aids.
What no one seems willing to admit is that, to create a massive, long-term change on an international scale, we need to make massive, long-term changes in our day-to-day lives. And no one seems willing to do so.