AH, celebrities. You’ve gotta
love them. I mean, you’ve really gotta love them. Otherwise, they’d shrivel up
That’s surely the threat implicit in the recent hunger strikes of entertainment has-beens on behalf of noble causes. While nobody can dispute that the situation is intolerable in such horrific spots as Darfur, it’s hard to imagine how Mia Farrow refusing to eat will affect anything one way or the other.
After all, don’t many female actors starve themselves for a living? Lindsay Lohan’s bikinis are hanging off her. I hope she won’t claim to be taking a hit for Sri Lanka.
Activists like Farrow, Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel do make a difference when they siphon off money from their personal fortunes for aid organizations, make documentaries that draw attention to humanitarian tragedies, or go to the world’s most ravaged spots and help out themselves. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, for example, seem to do all of the above, and in 2006 alone reportedly gave $8 million to charity.
But for celebrities to publicly swear off food for a week seems a pretty impotent gesture, unless they’re going to hand-deliver that food, plus a whole lot more, to somebody who’s truly going hungry. Leave the voluntary fasting to those with little other clout, like North American schoolchildren, who likely learn something about empathy from an organized day without meals, and may even raise needed funds.
Of course, we nobodies are no less shallow or ill advised than the famous. We form the audience for such saintly theatrics -- so much so that there’s actually a website called http://www.looktothestars.org/ that’ll update you on which big-hearted multi-millionaire has done what.
We also lap up the photos of well-dressed rich people at fundraising galas, to me a baffling concept. Wouldn’t it be a lot more direct for charities to make an eloquent pitch for money and then give every penny to the people in need, rather than lavishing those coveted Simolians on elegant spaces, flowers, wine and food? Or is the concept here that everybody wants an excuse to dress up, so they might as well assuage their guilt by raising a few bucks for a cause?
I don’t think largesse or good works need to be recognized. Canadian Blood Services sometimes has a party for its regular blood donors; I’m one of those hundreds of thousands nationwide. While it’s nice to be invited, and I’m sure it’s a modest affair, I’d never go. Blood donors are regular folk who just want to be useful; giving blood costs them nothing but time. Unlike the glitterati, they don’t need a four-course meal, gift bags and the wit and whimsy of Bob Saget to get them to do what everybody who can do, should.
A news release was sent to me this week by somebody who says he’s drumming up dough for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. This organization apparently promotes “the rights of hurricane survivors along the Gulf Coast, victims of torture and violence in Darfur and farmworkers in the U.S.” Doesn’t that strike you as a strangely diverse assembly of causes?
Nevertheless, this Center appears to be extremely well connected, and it’s conducting a fundraising auction with an odd array of famous-people-type prizes. I was a little confused by the news release’s reference to “The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights and Charity Buzz” -- I couldn’t believe there was a Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights and Charity Buzz. But then I thought about it and I could believe it, even though it turned out they are two bodies working in concert for this event.
The auction’s brimming with treats for the sort of people who care as deeply about bragging rights as they do about human rights. I was mainly interested in the release’s goofy ideas about what makes an enticing auction item, and its hilariously bad spelling. Starting at $5,000 (USD), for instance, you can vie for a “one-hour signing lesson” with Aretha Franklin. I hope the offer is really for a singing lesson, as learning to “sign” autographs is pretty useless for those of us in notably low demand.
How much would you pay for tickets to see “Dalia Lama” and Richard Gere? Richard Gere’s still got it goin’ on, but who’s this Dalia person? I’d prefer to see Richard privately, if you know what I mean. Dalia, rather a plain, badly dressed woman judging by her photograph, would only get in the way of my questions to Richard about his unforgettable performance in -- whatever.
I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the prospect of an autographed pair of TV interviewer Larry King’s suspenders and the chance to meet him, with the minimum bid a mere $1,500. Just a thought, but wouldn’t the price soar to at least $3,000 if they axed the audience with the increasingly turtle-like King?
Here’s another iffy offer -- a blogging internship at the Huffington Post for $13,000 plus. I happen to know that the Huffington Post doesn’t pay most of its contributors, so the internship might lead to what -- the chance to provide copy for free full-time? I hope Canadian publishers don’t get wind of the concept of people paying them for the ego trip of getting a byline in a newspaper. Could prove to be a windfall.
My all-time favourite auction selection, though, is the one that got this inadvertently comical description: “Fork, Knife and Swoon Over Lunch with Warren Beatty at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills.” I guess whoever wrote that titillating teaser hasn’t noticed that Warren Beatty is now over 70 years old and has made it safely past the stage of people fainting when he shuffles by.
I remember reading somewhere that the actor-director only recently sampled goat cheese for the first time, so one can imagine the meal would be pretty pedestrian, too. Shrimp cocktail and stewed prunes with Warren Beatty, then -- and they’re asking $1,750 to start. I sure hope his wife has deep pockets and charitable impulses.
I’ll save mine for the Red Cross and the United Way. The latter, as it happens, is a longtime favourite of super-hunk George Clooney.