Angelina Jolie, Bono, and Friends: Aren’t they just AMAZING?

…because it must be so hard to give away money and stand up for justice in between your world travels and the Oscars and making new albums or movies AND raising your very own family all at once. I wonder how they do it?

Okay, here is the thing. I think it is GREAT that celebrities such as Pitt and Jolie and Bono are doing good things for important causes, adopting children in need, raising the profile of important issues, and so on…

But, what I really am not so much a fan of is the lack of perspective that media and the general public seem to have on this. I mean, I am very happy that Angelina Jolie apparently gives away 1/3 of her income. But she still has money to live in a mansion, rent out a freaking entire complex in Africa to have her baby, buy designer very very over-priced clothes, jet around the world, and live better than, not only almost all the people alive in the world right now, but better than most people throughout the entire existence of humanity. It is great that she (and now apparently Madonna) adopt children who need homes. But, let us not forget that plenty of nannies are helping out here. I could go on, but you get the point. Celebrities are not really doing much hard work in terms of making things better. And I think, generally, they know this and it is only when people (like Anderson Cooper in the Angelina Jolie interview a while back) and media make them seem oh-so-giving-and-loving-and-just does the problem come along.

I do not doubt that the celebrities who have made do-gooding a hobby and their “thing” are amazingly well-intentioned and do make actual differences in people’s lives. I suppose I just want to get away from this whole “Wow, isn’t that great of them” sense that I get from the media. They are not living a difficult life. Not even a little itsty bit difficult based on their do-gooding. It is not hard to tour around the world and visit struggling countries or to set up funds or contests or even to give away A LOT of money when you have so much money you have no need of it all and generally live a VERY luxurious life.

This goes to the heart of one of my life-long struggles: how much “stuff” and “comfort” is okay to have? My gut tells me very little – my $1000 spent on vacation (or clothes or whatever I might spend it on) could go to something way more helpful to people who are suffering greatly. I don’t “deserve” a vacation or nice clothes or fun stuff anymore than people who don’t have such things “deserve” what they have. I live this out very poorly. I have accepted this. It improves, but not to the extent to which I think it really should. I just can’t think of a justification for the sort of unneeded stuff that we all have when that money could go to buy food for children who are hungry, housing for those without shelter, healthcare for those who are sick and in need. So you can see why I am not that impressed with celebrity do-gooding, until they really actually sacrifice something that they want. If a celebrity lives in a 2000 sq. ft. home and rides coach on the airplane and doesn’t have fancy cars or full-time nannies or extravagant vacations – that is the point where I might start to be impressed.

Just general rambling…. I’ve had bronchitis this week, which instead of getting better each day as I envisioned it when it was a little cough, has instead gotten progressively and substantially worse each day. And not only will I give a sermon on my favorite topic ever on Sunday (feminism) but I am scheduled to take the GRE on Monday which I cannot reschedule because not until today did I realize that I am getting substantially MORE sick each day rather than less and I would have had to cancel it yesterday in order to get a refund. So what do I do in response to all of this? I write about celebrity charity. Such GREAT time management Elizabeth.

4 Responses to Angelina Jolie, Bono, and Friends: Aren’t they just AMAZING?

  1. Meowia says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I am sorry that you are not feeling well and hope that you feel better soon.
    Although I think that you raise very valid points in your post, especially about the relative “sacrifices” that these celebrities may or may not be making in relation to their mass fortunes, I feel that the highlighting of such “do-gooding” may do more to encourage more such acts among those with the means to make a big difference in the world. Yes, keep it in perspective, but how many millionaires are there out there that do absolutely nothing to make the world a better place?

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you, Meowia. I think you are right and that it is important. I just wish the media wouldn’t make them seem so saintly. So I guess it is more the media I was annoyed with, although generally I think I was annoyed because I was feeling so rotten and that was the first thing that came to mind to complain about. I seriously think that when you are sick complaining makes you feel better. At least it does me :) And thank you for your lovely email – I enjoyed reading it and shall respond after classes. Best, Elizabeth :)

  3. matt says:

    I hear ya on the celebrity “do-gooding” Next thing you know, they are going to start running for office… Jolie-Pitt 2012?

  4. Thomas Williams says:

    You raise some very valid points about wealth inequality in our society. I first began raising these points as a very little boy in the late 60s and early 70s. After receiving little encouragement and many statements like “that’s life, get used to it” I decided to go out in the world and do something myself. I went to live in a poor village in western Puerto Rico at age 20, taught organic farming there for 2 years. Ten years later I went to Bihar, India and Mariani, Haiti, spent about 2 years total in both places. I helped establish soybeans as a cash crop in Haiti. All this with no support. I am certain no movie star or rich man. It is the individuals who venture out in the world and take risks that make the most difference. Those who stay home and perhaps donate $ actually have very little impact on poverty. Social service is a reward in itself , although very few young people realize it.

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