Are celebrity do-gooders really doing good?

This (from Latoya at Jezebel) raises the question: Should celebrities continual to highlight the plight of places like Africa? Or is charitainment really not helpful?

Madonna launched a school in Malawi, homeland of two of her adopted children, and here she is asking for donations.

No one can deny that Malawi needs help, but what of LaToya’s assertion:

Does this interest translate into the public good, or does it just become another way to prolong a problem? In the case of Madonna, I’m not too sure. Her earlier interest stunk to high heaven with the white savior complex, and the controversy over David Banda’s adoption added further fuel to the fire. After spending some more time in Malawi, she seems to have shifted out of the idea that one raises awareness by adoption and horrific images of suffering, and has shifted to promoting projects and infrastructure. The new school is a good start, and a step in the right direction. But what will Madonna do next? Will she continue learning and implementing projects that contribute to long term solutions? Or will she go back to the standard celebrity charity junket? (If her plea on the Huffington Post is any indication, we are heading back to “your one time donation” territory.)


4 responses to “Are celebrity do-gooders really doing good?

  1. I get really twitchy when people criticize the charity work of other people. Sometimes an argument can be made for a better way of doing things but this is just finger-pointing and she outed herself when she assigned motives to Madonna and brought up “great white savior”.
    I heard a short interview with Bill and Melinda Gates on NPR this morning and this issue came up. I guess they’ve taken flak for the way they do things in Africa. For instance, shipping in mosquito netting instead of helping the people make their own. Melinda handled herself very well and said that you can’t expect people to be able to work while their children are dying. We stop the dying first, then we help them with sustainable jobs.

    • You’re right. And there was a tone of snarkiness to this that I find puzzling. Still, I’ve volunteered in other countries and I’ve always come away thinking the volunteering did more for me than it did my supposed beneficiaries, if that’s the right word. There’s a way to do things and there’s a way to not-do things, I guess, but I usually come back down to: Yeah. But they’re trying.

  2. Here is a web site of a non-celebrity good work of rescuing child slaves in Ghana and elsewhere.
    She is from Neosho, MO and is a relative of Mike Cope.
    Another good work overseen and helped to support thru A.R.M. in Joplin, MO

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