PeRforming for causes

Lady Gaga LGBT

Lady Gaga championing LGBT rights

Which music celebrities do you admire? The talented ones? The acts that have been around for years? The artists with multiple hits? Or struggling musicians who never “sold out?”

In my summer class, “Pop, Rock and Public Relations,” our discussions include some of the celebrities I admire most including those who’ve used their fame to bring attention to a cause, fight a disease, or help the less fortunate. There are countless of current examples: Lady Gaga highlights LGBT issues, Taylor Swift fights bullying and child abuse, and Bono raises political and environmental consciousness. These are just three of the hundreds of causes and celebrities who support them. Some may accuse them of doing so just to enhance their images; I say “so what?”

Celebrity concerts including “Live Aid,” “Farm Aid,” “The Concert for 9/11,” “12-12-12 The Concert for Sandy Relief” have raised millions of dollars. But this wasn’t always the case. Musicians didn’t noticeably begin to speak out until the 1960s when they started to take very public stances on civil rights and the Vietnam war. Musicians’ activism took a different turn when former Beatle George Harrison used his mega-fame to raise money for those less fortunate. Just a year after the Fab Four’s 1970 break-up, Harrison was approached by his musical mentor Ravi Shankar who asked for his help to raise funds for millions of starving refugees in East Pakistan. He staged the “Concert for Bangladesh,” two performances at Madison Square Garden featuring music superstars ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, and other rock stars. The event raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and became a model for future fundraisers featuring music’s biggest stars.

It’s admirable when celebrities use their stardom and perform on behalf of worthy causes. They understand the power of their fame and capitalize on it to truly help people. And if they’re sometimes accused of exploiting others’ tragedy for public relations purposes, I suggest it doesn’t matter if their efforts can truly make a difference to people, creatures and a planet in need. Your thoughts?


4 thoughts on “PeRforming for causes

  1. Stephanie Adomavicius

    Personally, I enjoy learning about celebrities that take up a cause and use their influence to actually make a difference and call attention to an issue, rather than using their stardom to invoke something trivial such as a new fashion trend. Whether celebrities actually care about the issue at hand or are doing it for their own personal gain is insignificant. The fact remains that celebrity activism either exposes the public to something they might not have been familiar with or reminds society of a problem that is occurring. A celebrity’s efforts can be the springboard for further projects and fuels the fire for education.

    For example, Angelina Jolie has used her influence to fight for human rights around the world. She has raised awareness about numerous issues by visiting devastated and impoverished areas and has tried to pass legislation. Does this make her a more likeable figure? Yes. Does this cause people to flock to the theater when a new film of hers is released since she has that favorable quality? Most likely. However, don’t we want celebrities to use their fame and fortune for good, to truly try to make a positive impact on the world rather than using their status to boost their own social media accounts or personal brands/clothing lines?

  2. shollwedel

    As I’ve been reading articles on celebrity activism, many comments seem to suggest that celebrity efforts don’t matter because they’re just doing the work for their image. I’m in this same boat on this issue as Professor Morosoff. Even if they are just doing it for their image, I’m pretty sure the people who are benefiting from the attention the celebrities bring don’t care how the aid is coming in. I’m sure there are cases of misplaced activism, of celebrities who aren’t bringing their clout to bear in the most efficient way, but that’s human error. I think the overall effect that they have on the people looking up to them and on the people they’re trying to help far outweighs the criticism from keyboard warriors who think the celebrity image negates the help they are bringing.

  3. Pamela Lacayo

    I agree, it’s admirable to see these stars use their popularity and stage to advocate for the cause they believe in. I cannot say that there is a celebrity that I admire more than others. I’ve never been a person to follow celebrities, but I’d also say that celebrities are PR tools themselves as they are influencers, spokespersons for organizations that need to shine a light on a particular cause as is Child Hunger, Child Sex Slave etc etc.


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