Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Not Good Enough to Give: Michael Fullilove, who directs the global issues program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, seems to believe that charitable work is a privilege that ought to be extended only to those who have demonstrated their genuine concern by not becoming famous.

Or something.

In a Financial Times op-ed that seeks to mock celebrities for caring about causes, Fullilove goes after Angelina Jolie, Bono, and David Beckham because their involvement in social issues is, I kid you not, “unseemly.” In fact, these celebrities damage the causes they support, because everyone knows celebrities are not smart or sincere or studious enough to contribute anything of substance.

In an article that wallows unabashedly in its intellectual snobbery, Fullilove argues that celebrities damage the causes they promote for four reasons:

“First, their lack of expertise opens up the movements they represent to ridicule by association… Second, the awkward lifestyle gap that yawns between the rescuers and the rescued undercuts the moral seriousness of the enterprise and occasionally gives it an exploitative feel…. Third, attaching your brand to a celebrity's fortunes can be hazardous. Chanel and Burberry had to scurry away from their clotheshorse Kate Moss when she was pictured in tabloids allegedly snorting cocaine…. Finally, these institutions inevitably shed a little gravitas when they borrow the clothes of the jetset.”

Suddenly, caring about an issue is no longer sufficient qualification. You also have to pass an Australian academic’s “moral seriousness” check. But if we’re going to apply it to celebrities, let’s apply it to everyone who wants to give time or money. Test their knowledge of the issue, turn away anyone who is too rich, make sure they don’t have any embarrassing personal habits, and assess their “gravitas” level. If you don’t meet these criteria, Fullilove doesn’t want your charity.

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