10/12/2005: Thought for the Day:
First, there is the assumption—now almost automatic—that celebrities are public intellectuals on whatever issues they choose to take an interest in. I don't know whether Angelina Jolie is smart, smart for Hollywood, or not smart even by Hollywood standards. I do know, because I watched her speech, that she doesn't have much to say about AIDS. Her message to the assembled businesspeople and politicians was that we all must do more to fight this terrible disease. In particular, Jolie pressured the audience to pressure CEOs to pressure politicians to do more. When they have no idea what to do, celebs tell other people to tell other people what to do.
And just how saintly are these stars who give so freely of themselves? Cause-driven organizations like the Global Business Council want celebrity endorsements for the same reason companies like Nike and Coca-Cola do. Beautiful and famous people get everyone else to look at them. They create positive associations for whatever you're selling. But our idols seldom act out of selfless motives. Whereas product endorsements pay cash, actors and musicians gain heft and respectability by supporting fashionable crusades. What fighting AIDS does for Jolie, freeing Tibet does for Richard Gere, relieving African debt does for Bono, and banning land mines does for Paul McCartney. From the cynical celebrity's point of view, the best causes involve the poor, the sick, children, and animals in faraway places, both because of the telegenic aspect and because they bring no objection from fans or employers. If there were endangered baby pandas on the moon, Brad Pitt would be racing Ashley Judd there right now.
Len on 10.12.05 @ 06:36 AM CST