Gulf oil spill, Haiti, Darfur: Hollywood stars rush to do their bit
Stars seem to be stumbling over themselves to get to the neediest regions and biggest causes, like the Gulf oil spill. Is celebrity activism meaningful, or is it just another PR move?
As solutions to the Gulf oil spill elude top experts, at least two events are reassuringly predictable: congressional hearings and the appearance of Hollywood celebrities once the cameras begin to roll.Skip to next paragraph
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Take a broader look around the world’s hotspots, and the star power increases – director Spike Lee is in Louisiana doing a five-year follow-up to Hurricane Katrina, and Haiti hosted Sean Penn at the same time as George Clooney wrangled Hollywood cohorts into a charity telethon that raised millions.
But as stars seem to be stumbling over themselves to get to the world’s neediest regions and biggest causes, the question arises: Has celebrity activism gotten more serious – and meaningful – or is it just bad taste not to have a good cause these days?
The answer is a bit of both, say academics, actors, and PR professionals.
'Social activism is the modern currency in Hollywood'
Social activism, Ms. Currid points out, is the modern currency in Hollywood, forming an important part of a performer’s public persona. Celebrities use it to jockey for position in the entertainment ecosystem. The relationship between celebrities and fans has become less iconic and more accessible, she says, adding that their appeal is more about their personal narrative and less about talent or glamour.
“Activism plays a huge part of that,” she says. “And we consume this with an insatiable appetite through new forms of media.”
Longtime PR professional, Richard Laermer takes the point further.
“You can’t be in Hollywood without a cause these days,” he says with a laugh, suggesting that the scene in the film “Bruno” in which star British comedian Sascha Baron Cohen is being tutored on the fine points of a Hollywood career is spot on. Key to it is picking a cause – any cause – he is advised.