“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful to the people who give money to charities,” Olivia Wilde says. “But I yearn for a better way, a more consistent way, to give.” It’s an odd sentiment coming from someone who spends as much time as Wilde does raising money, most prominently as a board member of Artists for Peace and Justice, which focuses on education, health care, and the arts in Haiti. But it’s also fitting that Wilde—who was born to journalist parents and whose big sister is a civil rights lawyer—would raise her voice against the philanthropic status quo. It’s a system, she says, “where people think: I’m going to live my life and not really think about the developing world, and then on Christmas, I’ll cut a check.”
It calls attention to social projects such as the A.L.S Ice Bucket challenge, receiving much criticism for its ‘weak alignment’ of the social media hook and line – the ice bucket – with charity information. This is despite a resulting $94.3+ million donated this year, compared to the $2.7 million donated at the same time in 2013.
So if it’s the difference between generating over $90 million in donations – and, well, not – perhaps we can forget the absence of a campaign briefing, and merely appreciate successful virality.
Celebrities represent causes as much as products. Sometimes the PR publicity stunts are clearly distinctive to the genuine passion, other times, not. Daily, we see their faces represented – irritating us, inspiring us, prompting us.
Emma Watson generating remarkable virality in speaking for gender inequality as an issue concerning men.
Whatever the motive – these initiatives are not something to be critical of. Because in some way, they are an attempt at awareness, which certainly defeats an absence of such. And one can be critical of a lack of action for the cause – but would we be aware of this without (even failed) efforts? The point is not in the difficulty of controlling thought, or action, about a given subject, but the power that we have to prompt a consciousness altogether.