It seems Orlando Bloom’s visit to Liberia attracted wide attention in showbiz. Most relative news coverage of this field trip were reported by tabloids or entertainment websites. These reports, compared with the one by Huffington Post, are often more simplified. For instance, Mirror took a similar structure to Huffington Post but with shorter length and less details. It identified Orlando Bloom as one of his previous characters in films in the subtitles and portrayed the trip as a famous star visited “African country”. The caption for one of the pictures is “the star met the locals”. The language shows what Kapoor (2013) criticized as reinforcement of inequality. By highlighting the glamour of celebrity and what he did for the ordinaries, this comparison becomes part of the forces which recreate inequality and poverty (Kapoor, 2013).
The great bravery of Orlando’s visit to Ebola area was stressed in another news report . Being titled with “Brave Ebola Mission Is Acclaimed By Charity”, this story quoted words from NGO spokesman to emphasise the unusual action of “going to countries like Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone”. Calling this as a“dedication” makes the image of a dangerous world become more convincing. …
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Actor Orlando Bloom finished a four-day trip in Liberia this week. He met with local leaders, families and students and helped promoting anti-Ebola campaign as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. In the news report in The Huffington Post, this famous actor said that he hoped his visit could encourage local involvement in preventing more crisis. It seems that the star set an good example for doing the job as a celebrity ambassador.
From the image Huffington Post used in the report, Orlando Bloom clearly washed his hands before entering the community school as a necessary step to prevent virus. In another picture, he was talking with a local family and his facial expression shows concern and patience. As a way to experience health workers’ daily routines, the actor put on their heavy outfits, then the newspaper quotes his feeling: I’m sweating so much right now.
All the pictures in news report send the message that this star was trying his best to listen, to communicate and to experience local community after a crisis.What the actor did at local community is one of the typical celebrities engagement with development issues, as Brockington(2014) identified, engaging and rewarding existing supporters at particular events. This looks nice for his fans and maybe for people who look for celebrity news. However, does it also suggest a over-simplistic message for people who care about medical workers or the local community who suffers for the aftermath of a crisis?
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It would be necessary to take a pause here to think with a broader insight: how significant of celebrity in media reports of charity issue and why should we study on it? I found some useful graphs in Brockington(2014)’s study as shown below:
It can be seen from Figure 2 that the proportion of articles about both charity and celebrity is growing. This is nothing but unsurprising for us. Yet Figure 3 shows a clearer vision of the relation between celebrity and charity. While the proportion of celebrity articles mentioning charity remains at a low level, the proportion of charity articles mentioning celebrity keep increasing. Brockington(2014) concluded it as charity industry has been hugely altered by celebrity culture but does not have equal impact on the latter. Why is that and what are the possible consequences of this trend in media discourse?
With regarding to last blog about an article review, dominant discourse of media often reinforces current narrative of an unequal world order. Rajagopal(2002) also pointed out that the media are a place where power exercises and reproduces itself. Celebrities as powerful group in society, often play a part in the reproduction of inequality although it seems to be the opposite in charity reports. Thus it is essential for us to keep this in mind before we start more cases.
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Driessens, O., Joye, S., & Biltereyst, D. (2012). The X-factor of charity: a critical analysis of celebrities’ involvement in the 2010 Flemish and Dutch Haiti relief shows. Media, Culture & Society, 34(6), 709-725.
The article examines the role of celebrities in charity media events in 2010 Haitian earthquake to study on its contextual complexity as ideological constructs. By using qualitative content analysis, the authors argue that celebrities’ participation in charity events only reinforces charity media discourse of “charitainment”. The article proposed four functions of celebrity involvement: adding glamour, making distant suffering relevant for domestic audience, motivating and contributing to the commodification charity.In general, this article adopts a critical approach to current media representation of charity with regarding to celebrities.
The most remarkable point is that the discourse of media tends to take a shallow perspective of charity events. For instance, disaster reports are often simplified into a short-term issue which could be easily solved by fund-raising. Furthermore, it shifts focus from the real suffering group to “us”.As authors quoted from Chouliaraki (2006): relief aid was portrayed as “premised on an unequal world order, whereby the poor depend on the rich”. Celebrities could be considered as a part of “rich” group. What they contribute in charity events are used as evidence of caring from “us”. By combing celebrities with the audience, these media events actually strengthen this “unequal” world order. The language analysis in appeal statements also reveals how to create a feeling of self-complacence by directly approaching the audience to ask for donation. In the end, the article proposed more scrutinization on consequences of celebrity culture in charity media events.
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An online charity auction website announced its official launch and running this Spring. Bidkind, claimed to be a platform that will redefine online auction entreprise and benefits nonprofits globally. Basically, it provides users opportunity to have real contact with celebrities by bidding up the highest price. “Buy Now” option is designed to secure the experience with famous people for users. More specificly, the press release explained how it works: either bigging with an opening price of $750 or donating $7500 to get the experience of guest meeting with “Fast & Furious 7” star and go car racing.
Akin to this example, the website gave a long list of celebrities for winner bidder in its press release. It deliberately uses the charisma of celebrity people to attract user’s participation. It has been mentioned in the article that previous experiences included backstage passes to meet film star Hugh Jackman and partying with Paris Hilton. In contrast, how the funds raised by auction will be spent was simply mentioned as benefiting amfAR or ADCAM. Will there be further tracing of the money? No one mentioned a single word.
In fact, critics have noticed the emergence of online auction charity sites. Another site Omaze functions as a raffle to sell tickets for users getting celebrity meeting experiences. It is obvious that both parties get what they want: rich fans spend money for a real contact with stars and charities get funded. Sounds like a good business.
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A commentary article in The Guardian reviewed Binky’s case and provided some in-depth
discussions over the nature of charity work in today’s consumerism environment. Leo Benedictus gave a retrospective analysis on charity paying celebrities to front their campaigns and provided an alternative perspective for Binky’s case: it is OK to take money from charity as long as it is well-justified.
According to a series of interviews and talks with charity officials and workers, Benedictus (2015) told us that it is true that payment issue causes some obstacles for charity because they cannot guarantee the appearance or the behaviour of celebrities when they do not have financial ties. Indeed, charity works involve many procedures which do have expenses, and taking business decisions sometimes could be a reasonable justification for smoother corporation between celebrities and charities. Brockington(2014) also suggested
that it is important for charity organisations to have clear guidance about how things need to be done. He identified a risk of free endorsement that it would “deprive public figures”.
In addition, Benedictus revealed the framing of news coverage in Binky’s case: “The charity declared an income of £285.8m last year and decided to spend £3,000 on her. That’s like someone with the average British salary of £26,500 splurging 28p.” This analogy makes the payment not so unacceptable for readers but there is no media giving this information.
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The discussion of Binky’s story in the media continues. According to a comment article in The Guardian, although the sign the star posted said: “Please follow @barnardosretail on Instagram”, Binky herself was discovered not following the charity account. Aha, another example of one’s words are not matched by deeds! This corresponds with the moral framing in DailyMail coverage.
This has become one of the ways celebrities get involved with charity work. Many scholars described it as “clicktivism”, poverty, inequality or other global development issues are simplified into a single action(Dieter and Kumar, 2008; Littler,2008; Boykoff &Goodman, 2009) without investigating the reason and factors which influence the reproduction of these issues.
Apart from the main focus on the star and charity, the use of other sources can be very suggestive as well. HuffingtonPost provides a shorter story but shows similar attitude with DailyMail. The first few paragraphs mainly cited negative responses about this paid charity work. It also quoted The Sun about the reaction of charity visitors that they would “think twice before donating again”. This is a powerful use of secondary source because it points out the direct result. Then the comment from an MP has also been used to criticise in a strong tone( “an insult..”), even an “unnamed friend” of Binky thought that “To take money from a charity to help it is morally repulsive”.
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