Celebrity Culture for a Cause

As we all know we live in such a celebrity world right now.  I do not know when the change happened, but once it did, it just seems like Americans are obsessed with knowing every detail of a celebrity’s life.  And then people become celebrities for no reason whatsoever, a.k.a, “Octomom” and Paris Hilton.  Furthermore, some celebrities choose to do press for any and all reasons that have nothing to do with their trade or a project – just to have their name out there for no good reason.  Many of you know that I used to be an entertainment publicist, but when I was in the business, it was not like it is now.  And thank God, because I would not have lasted as long as I did.  I just cannot stomach knowing everyone’s business or seeing all of these scantily clad young girls running around being famous because of reality shows.  And now we have scantily clad 40 and 50 year old housewives (Mothers at that! My God) doing the same thing. 

 

And the thing is, I know it is this way because the public wants this stuff and consumes it to the tune of billions of dollars. I stand in line at the grocery store as people pick up the rag mags and comment on the ridiculous stories and take it as truth as if the person they are reading about told them the story themselves. So, I cannot blame the networks or the publishing companies because they are only catering to the lust for this type of sub-par entertainment. Now I do not want to sound like a snob because I do like a few reality shows, i.e., American Idol and Dancing with the Stars and I have to read my People magazine every Friday. But we all know some of these shows and magazines are garbage and that there are whole bunch of people walking down the red carpet who are famous for accomplishing absolutely nothing.
 
Now with that said, I am one to celebrate and read happily about great artists who deserve all of their fame because they are talented forces who move us through their art. I could go on and on naming many people, but I will just mention a few of my all-time favorites. From the music industry, I cannot get enough of Alicia Keys, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, and many, many others. From the world of film, I love Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Susan Sarandon, Halle Berry, Robert DeNiro, Matt Damon, Ruby Dee, Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Angela Basset, and Hilary Swank. And again, there are so many more actors and filmmakers who I admire, but this blog can only be so long.
 
Now there is a slight coincidence in the artists whose talent I admire? I mean everyone I list above is the real deal. Each one of these people take us places no one else does with their tremendous talent and ability to transcend through their art. But did you notice anything else? Okay, I will tell you. Each of these artists uses their tremendous blessings for the good of others. They believe in one of my motto’s that “It Takes A Village.” When you see them in the press, they are either promoting their entertainment projects or raising awareness for a cause or issue that is paramount to the safety, prosperity, or humanity of our global world.
 
Let’s break it down just briefly. We have Don Cheadle, who starred in the magnificent “Hotel Rwanda” and advocates for the end of the genocide in Darfur. Don has been on the forefront of this issue before many of us knew just how terrible the situation was. He has even written a book about the issue with John Prendergast titled “Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond.” Then there is his friend and co-star George Clooney, who cares just as much about raising awareness about the daily atrocities suffered by Black Darfurians by the Arab Janjaweed, who are authorized and sanctioned by the Arab majority government, to kill and destroy. George has traveled to Darfur, filmed his own documentary while risking his life, testified before Congress and even attended this year’s G8 Summit in Italy to continue his no holds barred work to “speak up for Darfurians” and help end this devastating genocide. Alicia Keys moves us with the lyrics she writes and the songs that she sings, but she moves me more for her work on behalf of the non-profit organization she started Keep a Child Alive.  After traveling to Africa and seeing first-hand the horrific effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Alicia decided that she had to use her voice, not only to sing, but to raise money and awareness for those suffering on the continent. Keep a Child Alive is dedicated to providing life-saving anti-retroviral treatment, care and support services to children and their families with HIV/AIDS in Africa. Denzel Washington, one of our greatest actors ever (the single tear running down his face in “Glory” anyone or his portrayal of Malcolm X) has a deep commitment to the Boys and Girls Club of America. Having gone to a center in his home town of Mt. Vernon, New York, he is now the organization’s national spokesperson and an avid donor. Bono, for me, is beyond comparison. I do not think there is another artist with his talent and celebrity who uses his voice for others the way that he does. From advocating for debt relief for third-world countries through his organizations DATA and ONE and raising money for The Global Fund to alleviate HIV/AIDS in Africa through his ingenious company (RED), Bono has it going on. Not one to shy away from political leaders of any party, he will take his fight to Capitol Hill, the G8 Summit, The Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony, as well as host political leaders, business people, and entertainers on trips throughout Africa to spread his message of hope and dignity for all. Beyonce is one of the most talented performers of our time. I just saw her perform a few weeks ago and I was spellbound in between trying to be Sasha Fierce myself. But beyond her incredible ability to sing, dance, and act, she is also a budding humanitarian who realizes her ability to affect positive change through her current world tour. In fact, she has teamed up with Feeding America and partner General Mills for the Show Your Helping Hand campaign which will deliver more than 3.5 million meals to local food banks.
 
I could go on and on describing the work of the other artists I mentioned above and even name more. But I do not think I have to because I know that you get my drift. Celebrity and media can go hand in hand and make such an impact when an artist is promoting a project, or even more importantly, bringing awareness and raising funding for a humanitarian issue that might otherwise be ignored.  
 
This is the way it should. Because “if I get there before you do, I am obligated to bore a hole and pull you through.” These celebrities are not leaving anyone behind and for that I am grateful.
 
Peace and blessings,
Malaak.

Comments

 
By: Kate
On: 07/13/2009 14:26:18
Great blog Malaak! Giving back makes us all human. I've always found it ironic and sad that our culture today looks to the disasters in the celebrity-world to "humanize them" and feel good about ourselves, when we would all benefit much more if we focused on the good that makes them "just like us." Wouldn't it be a novelty to have a celebrity rise from just doing good -not doing something freakish for attention? I hope and pray for that for my generation. A girl can dream...
 
By: Tonya Evans
On: 07/13/2009 14:33:15
I have a daughter who is only two years old and I hope the tides will turn back to when we were growing up when we had amazing artists doing amazing things to improve the plight of the less fortunate. As much as I love my fashion magazines, I really worry about both my daughter and son being bombarded by young women with no talent, wearing even less clothes.

Thanks for reminding me that there are still some great artists who do not shy away from, but choose to embrace, their "role model" titles. I'll have to remember to always pick up magazine featuring the Beyonce and Alicia Keys of the world and spread the word about the great work true artist like them are doing.
 
By: Indigo Ocean
On: 07/13/2009 15:47:29
Thank you for writing this inspiring article. I couldn't agree more! As someone who has been applying their creativity and effort to help those less fortunate than me ever since I was a poor, black teenager in the rural South, I find it hard to respect those people who have so much and don't bother to use it to reach out to help those will so very much less. Similarly, I have the greatest respect and admiration for talent that gets put to use not only making one's own dreams come true, but supporting the dreams of others. True compassion recognizes that we all have the same desire to be free of suffering. True humanity extends that hand of compassion equally to all beings. We must never come to see ourselves as somehow more deserving of happiness than others simply because we have been blessed with more talent, more wealth, more intellect, more support, or more luck than they were. Your article makes it clear that you hold your peers to a high standard. Indeed, I hold everyone to that standard. No matter how little you have, for just about everyone there is someone who has even less. Even if all you can give is a smile of appreciation, give that. Give with the intent of lifting others, and no matter where you start, you will indeed rise.
 
By: Gayle Fleming
On: 07/14/2009 05:52:24
Wow. This is a great blog and your point about celebrity is so well made. I hadn't thought about it but I have never heard Paris Hilton's name mentioned for anything other than...well, Paris Hilton. And who is Kim Kardasian (sp). I'm still trying to figure that out. Celebrity can make such a difference when used to benefit others.
 
By: Helena Holloway
On: 07/14/2009 21:13:47
I would like to comment on the Housewives phenomenon. I am an Afriacan American, I would like to address the Housewives of Atlanta. I thought it would be a good show for my 14 year old daughter to watch just to see how well African American women can live. Sad to say, I had to stop her from watching it due to the vulgar language. It was embarrasing to see their vocabulary was so limited they constantly cussed through the whole show.
 
By: Christina Collier
On: 07/24/2009 03:32:59
If you are a celebrity, I respect you more if you TRULY give back, not superficially, but out of the goodness of your heart. Mrs. Rock, I believe that everything you are doing is out of the goodness of your heart. What good is it for you to have millions of dollars and all your doing is squandering it away??? The noble thing to do instead of partying every night, would to donate money to charity and actually do some hands on charitable work.
 
By: Trina Morris
On: 08/30/2009 16:55:19
What an honest and passionate post!! Thanks and congrats, Malaak, for reminding everyone of the 'whole responsibility' of celebrity; something that many unfortunately avoid. You cannot buy integrity, and what a blessing to know and admire those who actually live it in abundance.

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