Why do we criticize people for speaking out?
There are different forms of aid, but all are helpful
Wealth and popularity are two of the greatest perks that come with celebrity status. Unfortunately, most often this money is spent on useless and unnecessary items, like clothes that will only be worn once, overpriced vacations, additional homes, and high-end luxury cars with the popularity wasted on social media posts.
Although everyone has the right to spend their money however they choose, in my opinion this type of frivolous spending is ridiculous, especially when there are individuals around the globe struggling to obtain essential food, shelter, health, education, or even more recently, dealing with a severe environmental disaster. There are moments when some celebrities step back from their fame and fortune to not only acknowledge a tragic situation, but to also take action.
In the last couple of weeks, a great amount of attention surrounded numerous celebrities who have contributed significantly to relief funds in order to battle the wild bushfires in Australia. Some of these individuals have given large monetary donations or have undertaken fundraising efforts. Other celebrities have taken a much more indirect approach by expressing their concerns and sympathies for the situation and those affected, discussing climate change as well as encouraging people to provide help.
Unsurprisingly, this type of celebrity action has resulted in controversy, as some people feel that speaking out is an ineffective course of action. Although I completely understand this anger, since speaking out seems like an easy and passive form of aid, the debate of what form of celebrities’ help is effective is a ridiculous controversy. Both monetary donations and speaking out are two forms of necessary help, because both achieve important short and long-term benefits.
For the past four months, Australia has been hit hard by intense wild bushfires. According to recent data from two weeks ago, the fires have led to the death of 20 people, roughly one billion animals, has destroyed millions of acres of land, and 1,400 homes. Due to the severity of the situation, many around the world have been donating to relief funds and providing aid in numerous ways. This includes celebrities.
In the first week of January, pop-rock singer, P!nk and Australian couple Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban began the trend of celebrity monetary donations, each donating $500,000. Since then, many other celebrities, such as Kylie Minogue, Elton John, and Leonardo DiCaprio have followed their example, stepping up and also making significant monetary donations, ranging from $300 thousand to one million.
Other celebrities have undertaken various creative fundraising efforts. For example, the Australian actress and comedian, Celeste Barber, launched an online fundraising campaign, which has raised over $3.3 million from 1.2 million individuals around the world. Although I have mixed views towards celebrities beginning fundraising campaigns intended for ordinary people to contribute to since they lack the same financial security celebrities have, rather than celebrities donating their own money, it is nice to see them taking positive action.
These monetary donations are extremely beneficial for two reasons. Firstly, they provide a great deal of relief in the case of the bushfires, and this immediate aid is greatly needed. Secondly, they encourage others to take action and make donations, whether that is other celebrities, ordinary individuals, or even video game companies, like Ubisoft and Bungie, who are donating their profits from the sales of a limited edition Destiny 2 t-shirt to two different Australian relief funds.
At the same time, while speaking out is a more passive approach, it is still an effective source of aid because it creates awareness, which spreads the message and leads to important change. This is essential for the current situation within Australia.
While the Australian government has stated that 200 of these fires were caused by a recent lightning storm, the severity of the situation has been heightened by climate change, according to environmental experts. In 2018, an Australian government environmental report was released, which emphasized that the country’s “changing climate . . . could result in natural hazards occurring at ‘an unimaginable scale.'”
This report is supported by a group of British academics who recently reviewed 57 different scientific studies, focusing on the environment in countries like Australia, Canada, Greece and the United States. All 57 studies prove the same thing: there is a definite “link between climate change and increased frequency, or severity of hot, dry, ‘fire weather.'” Professor Richard Betts, one of these academics and head of Climate Impacts Research at the Met Office Hadley Center, stated that although “fire weather does occur naturally . . . [it becomes] more severe and widespread due to climate change.”
As part of Russell Crowe’s Golden Globes acceptance speech, he stated: “make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based. We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy and respect our planet for the amazing place it is.”
When celebrities like Crowe speak out about this situation, they are not only raising people’s awareness toward climate change, but are also forcing people to acknowledge and understand the environmental reality – climate change is a real thing and a major concern for everyone. As a result, because of their influence, when celebrities speak out about these types of important issues, they can encourage people to pursue greener alternatives, which can potentially lead to major improvement for the current climate change crisis.
Monetary donations and speaking out are two different methods of aid, but they are both necessary. Instead of criticizing celebrities for speaking out but not donating money, direct criticism towards celebrities who have the money and resources to provide beneficial aid, but selfishly decide not to.