Porn for the people

Poverty porn is depicting “the graphic qualities of a human being to Western audiences for the sole purpose of eliciting an emotional experience and ultimately, money” (Roenigk, 2014). This is heavily used in the world of fame to save, promote or maintain celebrities brands and images as it is easy to put Jack Black in a dirty shirt with a sad song in the background telling people to donate to a charity in order to make him look like a nice guy.

jack-black-fryer-3-today-tz-150511_d35d299b7c53064f3ac42d2bac2bad90.today-inline-large(Image source: Today News)

We looked at this particular example in class and we were all split on opinions, but how do I really feel about this? Let’s break it down.

Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Emma Watson are all fighters for a good cause. Jolie and Pitt endeavour to use their fame to end poverty in African countries and Watson advocates for international organisation UNICEF, however who does this really benefit? Some may say that it is a kind and charitable of the celebrity who is obviously very busy to use their fame and fortune to do some good but “…even though celebrities are doing it for the right reasons, they ‘often do better’ out of the attention than their causes [do]” (Kelly, 2014).

In my research for this blog post I came across an article classifying the ‘twenty most charitable celebrities’ based on the DoSomething.org‘s ‘Celebs gone good’ list. The Buzzfeed article rattled off names like Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Chris Pratt who I think we can all agree – could not be short of cash.

Under the Justin Bieber photo was a blurb stating:

While it seems like the Biebs had a lot of not-so-great moments in 2014 (never forget his famous mugshot), he also did a lot of good this year, granting “over 200 wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and joined #CardsForDanny to send birthday wishes to a boy battling cancer.”

Hmmm… let me draw your attention to the block of text in brackets; the ‘famous mugshot’ the article is referring to is when Bieber was arrested for drunk driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid licence in 2014.

Justin Bieber Arrested In Miami Beach(Image source: Observer Culture)

You see, Bieber’s attempts at contributing to society and being charitable is such an easy target for critics because it is a plain attempt to rebuild his image and reaffirm himself in the eyes of his fans. Some may say that all charitable work that Bieber has done or will do is in order to maintain is good boy image – is this a bad thing?

The point of charitable work is to benefit those who are less fortunate than others, which is happening. So despite whether or not it is done with the intentions of benefiting others or themselves celebrities still do good – they just ensure it is mutually beneficial.

This then leads to the question – do I have an issue with this?

Short answer – no.

Despite the benefits for the celebrity, the good act is still happening and it leads to moments like these where despite the hilarious nature of them, are kind of heartwarming:

justin-bieber-fan-o(Image source: GifSoup)

What do you think about celebrities doing charity work to benefit their image? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Until next time,

J

References

Harris, K 2014, ‘The 20 Most Charitable Celebs Of 2014’, Buzzfeed, 30 December, viewed 20 March 2016, <http://www.buzzfeed.com/kristinharris/the-20-most-charitable-celebs-of-2014#.ukBYRLg8YJ&gt;

Kelly, T 2014, ‘How charity work benefits stars most: Links to good causes make celebrities more popular’, Daily Mail Australia, 9 August, viewed 20 March 2016, <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2720336/How-charity-work-benefits-stars-Links-good-causes-make-celebrities-popular.html#ixzz44kJeIKd0&gt;

Roenigk, E 2014, ‘5 Reasons ‘Poverty Porn’ Empowers The Wrong Person’, Huffington Post, 16 April, viewed 20 March 2016, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emily-roenigk/poverty-charity-media_b_5155627.html&gt;

Summerskill, B 2015, ‘Are celebrity charity patrons a good thing?’, The Guardian, 2 March, viewed 20 March 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/2015/mar/02/are-celebrity-charity-patrons-good-thing&gt;

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