A Terrible Nonsense is Born: When Glamour meets Altruism

Gwyneth Paltrow, beaded and adorned in clothing Africanus, looks out at us breathtakingly in the way only superstars can. It’s that sultry “bite me, you’re not this hot and successful yet still humble” look. Said look is usually accompanied by an artificial breeze.

“I am African”, declares a wind-swept Gwyneth, looking more Gucci than Ghana. Of course you are. We all are. Now, take your medication for racial dysphoria and rest a while.

To be fair, she’s not the only celebrity who took part in this monstrosity of a charity campaign, the purpose of which escapes me. All that resonates is the whiter than white faces decrying their Africanness.

While the photographs will act as little more than a reminder of how gorgeous famous people are, and just how far airbrushing has come, it thankfully provides long-lasting luvvie fodder for cynical bloggers just waiting to annihilate celebs who took the lyrics to “We are the World” literally.

Once upon a time celebrities knew their places in society – be rich, beautiful, and entertaining. Attaching one’s fabulous self to a cause was OK, so long as the star didn’t become it.

It’s getting harder to reconcile self-aggrandizing contemporary luvvies with their charitable tendencies, though. Now they all seem intent to air kiss their way to world peace, latching on to a cause that will enhance the public persona. Like an accessory (think Paris’ handbag puppy), the cause becomes synonymous with the star and what is little more than an exaggerated sense of self-importance translates into a Polaroid moment slash PR opportunity. Egocentricity feeds altruism.

Madonna announces her charitable endeavours in TIME magazine, Nicole Kidman signs an open letter against Hezbollah (the contents of which I doubt ever reached them), and George Clooney lectures that the solution to unemployment is more employment in Darfur, Sudan. Err, thanks George.

While celebs may care about more than their latest box office rankings, they’re not the ones I’d go to in order to fill knowledge and awareness gaps. Can you appreciate my point?

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie delighted the tabloid media by pairing up, and they continue to tantalise with their shenanigans and humanitarian endeavours. But I know there’s something in the Hollywood water when stars threaten not to marry unless laws are changed.

When they’re not boosting Africa’s economy by just showing up there to have babies, Brad and Angie’s stance means there’ll be no juicy wedding pics to fight over until gay people can marry, consequently holding tabloid mags hostage until George Dubya cuts them some slack. Mind you, we’re talking about a man who has invaded countries and shrugged off the collateral damage as a necessity, so I don’t like their chances.

It’s a new position given Jolie has been married three times, including one ceremony where she and her then beloved Johnny Lee Miller wore vials containing each other’s blood. Pitt has also been married once and neither Brad nor Angie seemed perturbed by the laws then.

The work of celebrities is certainly valuable; their humanitarian efforts should not be discounted, but some perspective is needed – many more ordinary people do greater work without advertising it, and the approach is usually the no frills type. That is, no weird glamour campaigns. Superstars are particularly important when it comes to raising awareness. Usually, it’s more likely that the flavour du jour will get the needed media attention more easily than an emeritus professor who never sees daylight.

But it’s beyond ridiculous when stars lacking the relevant qualifications preach to the masses. In some cases, showing up to a fundraiser should be the most he or she attempts.

Celebrities, no matter how benevolent, are not law makers or benchmarks of morality. They are entertainers. They take reality and dress it up to look like something else.

Given their infallibility in celeb world, it should stay that way, since reality is never as neat or glamorous.