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Should we do away with charity gigs and singles?

The Vote

Published on January 27th 2010.


Should we do away with charity gigs and singles?

First, the disaster. Then the news. And then, of course, the celebrity benefit concert and charity singles. It’s a familiar sequence of events.

Live Aid is one of the more memorable. Then there was a Tribute to Heroes in the aftermath of September 11, Live 8 for third-world poverty in 2005, Live Earth, Tsunami Aid and most recently, Hope for Haiti. Or to give it its full name, George Clooney presents…Hope for Haiti.

The live telethon on January 22 boasted a star power line-up of Bono, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Rihanna, Jay-Z and others performing alongside actors including Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney, who became unconvincing call centre staff for the evening.

Let’s not beat about the bush- celebrities take part in visible charity work and events, partly because it benefits their images. But this distasteful side of charity work is rarely brought to light as, despite hidden intentions, it still serves the purpose of raising mass awareness of a worthy cause. And no one can deny that.

Unfortunately, the PR potential of celebrity association for a cause such as Haiti, provides as much self promotion for a celebrity as it does cash for the cause, but this probably tells us more about ourselves than the celebrity philanthropists involved.

They say donate money, so we donate money. Politicians dream for this kind of power.

Charity gigs and telethons cost money to organise and in some cases, celebrities still expect to be paid. Hope for Haiti is reported to have raised close to $60m, yet if 100 celebrities each gave £1m, that alone would raise more than the concert, minus the overheads, ever could. Or how about if they each sent their private jets over to Haiti, stocked up with food and supplies?

It's not as though tens of thousands of us need to be enticed by the sugar coating of celebrity pleas – millions of pounds in the UK have already been raised for instance. For many the news of a disaster such as that in Haiti is enough to provoke charitable acts without waiting for it to be overshadowed by glitzy events which offer no long-term solutions.

Maybe the celebs get active because they think we need a bit more encouragement. Not that celebrity activism is all self gain, there are people in the entertainment industry who prove their intentions by keeping a low profile whilst carrying out humanitarian work. Sadly, others can’t seem to follow suit.

Take Simon Cowell for example.

After reportedly being asked by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to put together a charity single, he rounded up his Brand Cowell, TV talent troupes: Cheryl Cole, Alexandra Burke, Leona Lewis, Joe McElderry, JLS and Susan Boyle, to sing a cover of REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’.

Speaking about the Haiti disaster and the charity single, Leona Lewis said: “I want to go over there so badly. But I think the best way to help is by doing things like this."

Bless you Leona, have a little sing-song instead eh?

Putting out a single and organising a gig every time there is a disaster has become an increasingly tedious way for multi-millionaire mega-stars to ‘do their bit’.

Granted, it raises money but baring in mind that aid is not getting into Haiti fast enough, perhaps celebrities could instead be using their profiles to find out why.

What do you think? Does the celebrity charity thing annoy you, or are they doing it for the greater good?

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

GridlockJanuary 28th 2010.

These are so self serving, all those luvvies getting together, we never actually hear (apart from the BBC stuff) what and where the money goes to; in the case of countries like Haiti, with shocking manegement and corruption an horrific percentage is wasted.

Smyth HarperJanuary 28th 2010.

Not a very pleasant article. Frankly I couldn't care less about celebrities' motives for benefit gigs so long as the cash is being raised.
<br><br>Sneer all you like, and I am sure the 1.5 million homeless people in Haiti will find it fascinating that you find efforts to raise cash to help them "tedious", but the very least - the very least - you could have done in an article about Haiti is put a link in to the DEC appeal website. It's dec.org.uk
<br><br> Actually, the best thing that someone like Leona Lewis can do IS to take part in a charity single. With probably no experience of charity aid work I would imagine that she would be as useful as a chocolate teapot in Haiti right now. It may be mawkish, they may have the wrong motives, Simon Cowell may infuriate me, but it doesn't matter. The charities need cash, and they need it right now. Bringing out a single which millions will buy or download has a tangible benefit which will save lives. Which is more than what this petty article will do.

AgricolaJanuary 28th 2010.

Course it does. The genuine charitable impulse is fine but this celeb method cheapens the act of giving and turns the victims into a sideshow. Celebs should donate as much as they want but they shouldn't flaunt how good they are.

DescartesJanuary 28th 2010.

It also doesn't put as much money into the charity's pocket as it does the people organising it.

Do One GordoJanuary 28th 2010.

Most of the morons who are glued to X Factor etc probably haven't heard of Haiti, and probably flick the TV at the sight of the carnage there.

How to get there money?

Celebs, THEIR celebs.

Descartes you cynical swine; you can't seriously think Cowell et al will make money off this?

This kind of thing raises awareness, and leverages a previously un-tapped revenue stream.

I'm all for it. Sneer all you like.

Smyth HarperJanuary 29th 2010.

Agricola - someone who is lying in Haiti tonight without a tent probably couldn't care less if they are a sideshow. They probably also couldn't care less if the "act of giving" is cheapened. I'd rather be a sideshow with a tent and a chance of survival. The charities need cold, hard cash. Cash, not sentiment. Any way they can get it is OK by me. Causavox - I couldn't agree with you more. £60m to the DEC appeal so far. It still isn't enough. dec.org.uk

loved up coupleJanuary 29th 2010.

how funny. I can tell its friday. I thought that the title referred to getting rid of all single people. all in favour of that.

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