CELEBRITOCRACY By Cooper Lawrence PHD
Here’s Your Permission Slip To Find A Special Charity and Detach From Celebrities Urging You To Fund Theirs
It’s all around us. Celebrities are ubiquitous, feeling the need to weigh in on every aspect of life and politics. Every statement or post they write is out there making us feel less-than for not sharing their fashion sense, political views or altruistic endeavours. It’s one thing to post an opinion, but another to influence us to open our wallets and give to the charities they have chosen.
For example, in a recent video Ashton Kutcher and wife Mila Kunis, urge us to buy their wine so they can then donate to a “handful of charities” chosen by them. Kutcher is worth upwards of $250 million dollars. Why would he not eliminate the middleman (us) and just give to charity himself?
You’re more likely to experience the benefits of charitable giving by choosing an organisation that has meaning to you, personally. Charitable giving has been linked to lower levels of depression, higher levels of pleasure in the brain, and longer life. In fact, a long-term study at the University of Buffalo found that people who engaged in helping behaviours and volunteerism reduced their mortality rates as compared to those who did nothing.
It’s also important to remember that many celebrities choose charities for publicity reasons and not for altruism. Most recent examples of this fake giving are by Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey; and more overtly by Chris Brown who, after being arrested for domestic violence, donated the proceeds of his concerts to domestic violence-related charities.
Your desire to help (volunteer) or to donate comes from a sincere and real place. Do not let a celebrity choose your charity. They don’t know more than you do and they are not experts. We mistakenly think they are but when you’re sick, you go to a doctor; you don’t try to get an appointment with Meryl Streep. When your kitchen pipes burst, you call a plumber, not Christian Bale. Celebrity activism has actually gone awry more than it has done the work it is intended to do.
If you’re interested in learning more about celebrity activism gone wrong, pick up a copy of my new book Celebritocracy: The Misguided Agenda of Celebrity Politics in a Postmodern Democracy.
For us, we have a therapy dog and we volunteer at hospitals, schools and libraries because that’s what works for us. We urge you to find the charity or foundation that works for you and help any way you can, but whatever you do, don’t choose your charity because a celebrity told you to.
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