Celebrity philanthropy

Source: Min An (via pexels)

by Adam Clarke

The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to all of us having to change the way we live day to day and things as mundane as going to the shops or visiting family are now under strict guidelines. Yet there are good news stories wherever you look, from Captain Tom Moore raising nearly 30 million quid by walking around his garden or the fact that all of us are taking time out of our day at 8 every Thursday to clap for the thousands of underappreciated workers in the NHS. 

Everyone is looking for a way to do their bit, and that includes celebrities, many of whom have been using their immense social media followings and influence to raise money or awareness for key workers around the world. But some have been critical of these celebrities, arguing that they are only doing these nice things for their own ego or for the PR benefits that such philanthropy entails. I feel that such criticism is unfair; even if a celebrity is aware of the selfish benefit they will gain by appearing to be benevolent in public, should that take away from the kind act that they have done? 

“He would be the first to bite back and say it was unfair”

Lady Gaga’s ‘One World: Together at home’ concert reached 21 million people worldwide and raised 128 million dollars for healthcare causes and charities. Surely this can only be a good thing, right? Wrong. Many people, including Piers Morgan, criticised the singer for getting involved in something which they saw as nothing to do with her. Mr Morgan tweeted, “Why? Has she found a cure? Otherwise, we don’t need a bloody singer there.”, before the concert, he hastily retracted his statement after the success of the concert was seen. I feel that this kind of off the cuff criticism of celebs is in no way constructive and just shows someone looking for a reason to get angry. I reckon that if Piers Morgan had tried to raise money for charity, and then a fellow celebrity had started criticising him for it, he would be the first to bite back and say it was unfair. 

Sure, not all of the celebrity content from the current outbreak has been great, Gal Gadot et al giving their rendition of ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon springs instantly to mind. But the fact remains that even if celebrities are gaining something from them helping out, they are still helping out. Rohit Thawani in The Guardian wrote that celebs are, ‘Driven by narcissistic and possibly sociopathic desires’ which seems to me an incredibly negative generalisation of all attempts by celebs to help. If us clapping the NHS and hanging rainbows in our front windows is a nice way of helping, how is it that celebrities such as Britney Spears, who is offering to buy supplies for her twitter followers, or Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, who have donated nearly a million dollars to food banks, are being criticised?

Normally I am the first to criticise celebrities for getting involved when they needn’t or posting self-serving updates as to what a nice person they are, but in the current circumstances, I feel it is completely unnecessary to criticise anyone who is trying to help. 

Surely at this time we could all do with a little less scepticism and cynicism and just appreciate that someone is doing something to help, even if they are helping themselves at the same time.

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