Celebrities are Going to Save the World


“Stop it with the Jesus complex. Are you Bono? Yes. Are you Jesus? No. Your intentions are excellent and at least 60% of your music catalog is still indisputably great. But if you were to play the whole “Bono Thing” a little more low key, tipsters and I might not laugh every time you talk about changing the world like it’s the pop culture punchline it is..”

Harsh?  Foster Kamer in Gawker is reacting to a tip from a reader who has had enough: “Another f*****g Bono op-ed…”  The complaint is a reaction to Bono’s January 2, 2010 New York times op-ed in which, in classic, stagey Bono-speak, the star offers ten ideas for a better decade admitting they, “have little in common with one another except that I am seized by each, and moved by its potential to change our world.”

The energy star-struck fans channel into gushing over celebrities and their pet charity causes is only equaled by the theater in the snooty sneer wannabe high-brow critics flash as they pass the tabolid rack.  Either way the stars win as brand recognition soars, fueled by the collective chatter of lesser mortals.  As politicos revel in the glorious gridlock of global terror, nuclear threats and climate brawls, let’s adjust our gaze and focus on the celebrities that will usher us into utopia:

Bruce Willis: In 2005 the Die Hard star brought us one step closer to toppling terror as he announced that he would give $1M to whomever killed Bin Laden.  This was not enough though so he later offered an additional million to whomever could finish off then head of Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi bureau, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.  Follow-through was not good on the latter promise.  When Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was finally killed in 2006, Willis coughed up exactly zero, explaining his comments (originally made in a live phone chat on MSNBC) where metaphorical and not intended for the general public.

Jude Law: One-upping Bruce Willis, Jude Law announced in 2007 that he was going to be traveling to Afghanistan to bring peace to the region.  “I felt there was no way they would want the blood of a film crew from the West on their hands,” he explained on his return.  “Obviously, the situation was too complicated for us to sit down with actual members of the Taliban…  But we were led to believe that the effects of our conversations with the right people filtered through to them.’  Phew.  Call off the surge.

Brown Baby Adoptathon Participants: It’s not just Brangelina and Madonna and their famous international adoptions.  Meg Ryan, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rosie O’Donnell and former couple, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, all adopted.  In ‘Adoption Fever’ Among Celebrities – Good or Bad?, Netscape Celebrity states, “Whether altruism and love, or self-interest — or some of each — are motivational factors behind celebrity adoptions, there is no denying the stars’ actions are influencing others. In fact, the popularity of adoption among celebrities has been credited with helping to broaden the general public’s definition of what constitutes a desirable adoption.”    Hmmm… remember how everyone started carrying around chihuahua’s because Paris Hilton made it look hot?  Well, the craze is over and now chihuahua’s are being abandoned at record rates all over California and they compose 30% of the dog population in the state’s shelters.


Bjorn Karlman

31 thoughts on “Celebrities are Going to Save the World”

  1. while i am one to look for the best motives in people, you do have a point, and i think some of the responsibility lies on our glassy-eyed brain-out-the-window following of our fave celebrity. thankfully, for the most part, there’s no one in particular that has so got my attention that i will do anything i say.

    on the flip side of this issue, tho, i do believe there IS some credit to be given to celebrities who use their status for the good of others. and i see Bono in that light. think …. story of Esther.

  2. If celebs wanna do good things… well that’s a good thing! lol. I always say, you never really know where a person’s heart is at. And even if they are doing it just for publicity, which most of them probably are, who are we to judge. At least they’re doing something. Which is more than a lot of people can say about themselves ;-)

  3. I’m not sure why so many care about celebs personal lives; their philanthropic tendencies, babies adopted, altruistic trips to the middle east. Not only that, there are far too many reality-type shows dedicated to peoples’ lives that we’ll never meet. Who cares?! But I guess if they’re gonna give their time and dollars for these causes…we could at least accpet it at face-value.

  4. LOL Are you serious? Unfortunately people will always care too much about celebrities and what they do, or stand for. This means that celebs are in a position to be trend setters. So if they want to adopt all of Africa, stop wars, save the whales or cure cancer than rock on! Regardless of their motives the “good” they do is still good done.

  5. I always find it important to remember how precious little formal education many of these celebrities have….

  6. I agree, judgment or some kind of character assassination would be ill-advised… a light hearted jab at super-ego saviors fumbling… couldn’t resist it..

  7. I see what you are saying… are we allowed to laugh a little bit though? I’ll cancel the USWeekly subscription I was going to send your way…

  8. Yeah, running some stats on that would be interesting… that combo of cash and insane scheduling has got to mean cutting somewhere.

  9. It seems that the celebs are falling victims to their own fame. What they do is just a hype, leaving us emptier once the craze is gone, wanting to find something new and fresh. Perhaps consuming the media info about our favorite celebs points out the choices we make – we can either gorge and feel bloated, or we can wisely pick out the wisest things. After all, it is not what they say and do that matters more, but I make of it.

  10. Entertaining article with some good points raised. It is of course better for celebrities to be doing something good than not, but a lot of it has to be taken with a pinch of salt as it seems to be ego driven. How many of them would give up all their wealth or be fed to lions to make their point? Let alone just go about their work quietly. Thanks for a good read.

  11. Bjørn, I am impressed with your writing; it all seems to flow so effortlessly. More importantly are your insights as a cultural critic. No doubt your global vagabond upbringing has provided a unique perspective. I hope that the new year brings all that you desire and more. So good to hear from you, my friend!

  12. Thanks for the comment! Yes, it was a tough balance deciding how exactly so treat charitable acts by celebs… on the one hand they have an excellent platform from which to give an issue (adoption or otherwise) visibility… but then you also run the high risk of back fire… I was just talking to someone who does work for the Tiger Woods Foundation… they had 100 of their volunteers fall away

  13. Thanks a lot Erik! And good to see you on CultureMutt… Happy New Year to you too! Looking forward to seeing your well-traveled, multilingual take on issues in future posts.

  14. Actually, many actors DO have formal education. (See http://www.listal.com/list/actors-with-degrees ) I realize that “actor” does not always equate with “celebrity” (Carrie Ann Prejean and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, for example, are “celebrities” (of the worst kind), but they’re not necessarily “actors”).

    I do believe that to be a successful “working” actor (not a “name” actor, necessarily, just a “working” actor), a certain level of drive and determination is critical to success – the same drive and determination that’s needed to complete a formal education.

    And don’t forget that formal education can only be ascribed to about 10% of any one person’s success… the rest is people skills, drive, motivation, and, yes, circumstance.

  15. Yes, and if Christians play LPs backwards, they’ll hear personalized messages directly from Satan (works on both Black Sabbath *and* Amy Grant albums, by the way.)

    No offense, but Vigilant Citizen sounds like a lot of paranoid zealotry rather than rational thought.

  16. Excellent post Bjorn! While I agree that more of the long tired “Save the World” messianic pop talk and the seemingly cop-out adoption of celebrity altruistic fads to promote one’s image calls for some disgruntlement and cynicism, yet I believe that we should avoid the opposite extreme and continue to encourage the idea that celebrities should use their “office” and resources to promote and further some social good. I jut think that they should promote their philanthropic and altruistic endeavors in a way that is down to earth and looks and sounds “normal”, so as to encourage the same behavior among the types of everyday people that follow their star shine, rather than vaunting themselves their messiah.

    That said, your observation about the chihuahuas is without question HILARIOUS!

  17. Thanks Stevo… I do agree… I work in fundraising and would absolutely not object to a celebrity name at an event as an added draw…

  18. Until a couple of days ago some “world saving” actions taken by celebrities might have seemed funny or corny; however, we are now faced with the tragedy in Haiti, and any relief efforts –by celebrities or not – are truly appreciated. George Clooney is involved in the telethon fundraiser for Haitians. Sandra Bullock and Madonna pledged substantial monetary donations.

    In general, I would probably agree that when celebrities attempt to “save the world” their message is not always clear or there is no true message at all. However, we do need to remember that when the impoverished meet visiting celebrities, these encounters offer the poor a motivation to aspire for the better life that appears to exist where these luminaries live. And impoverished people deserve any advantage celebrities are willing to bestow upon them. Much of that aid goes toward education – a fundamental right which provides instruction to their children, as well as themselves. In fact, I can vividly recall a feeling of shock and disbelief when my South American upper middle class friend once said that factory workers do not need to be literate in order to do their work.

    In my opinion, poverty breeds injustice and depravity. It also seems to me that it does not matter how we might feel about celebrities themselves, it’s what their actions – as well as our own – can do for people in need that is most important.

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