For years celebrities and wealthy people have been associated with numerous charitable causes, from improving the environment to helping fight poverty throughout the world. But recently the question has been raised: should illustrious and recognized people be associated with these charities, or should they just stick to what they know?
When we think about Angelina Jolie, George Clooney or Oprah Winfrey we can withdraw one similarity between all of them: they all have been active participants in the struggle against global issues. Still, this is a small sample of all the celebrities and wealthy people that have been trying to solve the difficulties experienced in the world.
It is clear that the influence these people have on a global scale gives extra exposure to the causes they endorse, not only because we can see them often on the newspapers and television programs, but also because they make sure the word is spread all over the social media world on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; we can always see a great number of famous people talking, tweeting or posting about the noble causes they support that like any of us they may be drawn to instinctively or have been touched by directly or indirectly.
Hope for Haiti featured A list stars such as George Clooney, Russell Brand, Matt Damon et al. It was a bizarre collision of two worlds, a place where Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck or Drew Barrymore - amongst others - answered phone calls from potential donors, all keen to get their slice of celebrity pie. the phone bank meant well and was hugely successful, making over 58 million dollars but was also heavily criticized for the message getting lost amongst the star-studded bash. In a similar way Live Aid/ Live 8 has been criticized for losing touch with what it was raising money for and losing the message.
Celebrities and charity have an ambiguous relationship. Indeed, the support of celebrities and rich people can be of great help to charities and foundations that look out for others needs, not only because they donate great amounts of money, but also because they bring awareness associated to the fact they are public figures. On the other hand, we can also state that celebrities and wealthy people do not do enough, and because they have a lot of power and money, they should do more. Moreover, some studies have revealed that the fact that a certain famous figure assists or endorses a specific cause does not exactly mean that the foundation or organization in question will have more supporters or donors.
A recent campaign that has been all over social media, and that has had a big endorsement from celebrities, which is the Ice Bucket Challenge. Probably all of us have heard about this, but if not, this is something which has been done to raise awareness for a disease called ALS. Numerous celebrities have been involved in this challenge, where they would pour a bucket of ice over their heads, and therefore try and get the attention needed for this very problematic disease. A-list figures, from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and LeBron James to Tom Hiddleston, Lady Gaga and Homer Simpson, have all participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge. The results after the videos of these celebrities went viral were actually very positive; the Ice Bucket Challenge raised approximately £13 million. As we can clearly see, this was a situation where a specific cause benefited from the support of dozens of celebrities and famous figures to not only raise awareness, but also get money to fight this illness. It didn't come without its critics though: 'why ALS and not other campaigns?'
The counter view - that celebrities and charities should not be connected - comes in a form of a study performed by British academics, more specifically Professor Dan Brockington and Professor Spensor Henson, where they tested ‘star power’ effect on charities and organizations. The conclusions, nonetheless, were not very favorable to the public figures, for researchers concluded that ‘the ability of celebrity and advocacy to reach people is limited’, and, therefore, their support and endorsement can be seen as unnecessary or irrelevant. In this research, where 1,000 people were surveyed, it was also concluded that people could recognize a great number of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), but were not able at the same time to name ‘celebrity advocates for those brands’.
Celebrities - endorsing noble causes and charities – and helping and making the world a better place should not be criticized. They do not deserve our support simply because they are celebrities but because they are people who are trying to change the world and are wanting to improve it. They deserve our respect for using their time and trying to make others’ lives better and happier. Moreover, making the world an improved place is something that should not only be a characteristic of those who have more money or more fame than the rest, but should also be something everyone does, because it is up to us to shape the world we want to live in. We just need to make sure that celebrity-driven campaigns like the No Make Up Selfie or the #wakeupcall keep the message in the forefront of people’s minds. It’s a case of not getting lost in the razzle-dazzle and glitter of the celebrity world; of having fun but reminding donors – and the celebrities involved – of the facts and the cause they are doing it for.
- By Antonio Reymao
- photos courtesy of Mirror Online