Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ima wanna summa that

As I mentioned yesterday, we would come back to sex slavery. It's a big topic now.

I've known it's wrong, ever since I first became aware of it.

And now we have Demi and Ashton, compellingly called "DNA" (as in "Demi'N'Ashton"!) leading the global campaign to end child sex slavery. Given the fact that just about everybody in the world has at some point wondered if it would be all bad to be Ashton Kutcher's sex slave, I can't think of a better celebrity pair to take on this task.

In addition to giving speeches and appearing at official functions around the world lending their support to the abolition of child sex slavery, all of which is chronicled on their web-page, they've created a series of video ads starring friends: "Real Men Don't Buy Girls."

Here's one with Justin Timberlake. Frankly, I think it's a bit disappointing. Justin Timberlake is one of the funniest young comic actors out there, but he can't quite pull it off. In fact, most of them are a bit disappointing. I wanted to enjoy Sean Penn's. But I didn't. Ashton Kutcher proves that he really is quite a poor actor. I suppose that this one, featuring Jason Mraz, is quite interesting?

In any case, I've been amused to discover that there's something of a backlash, which I don't want to whip up into a cultural whiplash: it's a small backlash, limited mostly to comments on YouTube about how these ads aren't quite appropriate. Michaela Haas, who is one of those weird media celebrity-cum- academic-cum-advocate figures, has written a delightfully lurid piece of agonised concern over DNA's Real Men blitz. But I get the sinking feeling that this is really all about celebrity. The word "celebrity" is in the piece five times, and "star" four times, which is more than "slavery", "HIV" and "Clooney" combined. And she's quite careful with her criticism; she is very pleasant about how

Demi and Ashton, with their combined star power, can attract considerable publicity and capital for a cause that truly deserves more attention and clearly needs more exposure.
But she's not so sure about the comedy bit.

Yet the reality is dirty, painful and cruel -- the videos are so silly they miss the mark because they seem to make fun of the reality.
Yeah, um, do they do that? Or is this some other, Matrix-like use of "the reality"? Anyway, this allows her to segue into some sentences that might suggest "expertise" by listing a bunch of unsurprising facts. What she's really worried about is that if celebrities act silly, then media celebrities-cum-academics-cum-advocates may lose their gravitas when they put on their Armani glasses and act serious. Without anything approaching a serious analysis, she points to some other celebrities who have apparently done it right:

The most successful celebrity philanthropy endeavors all prove that success comes with continuous involvement. Sean Penn does truly amazing work outside the limelight [Ed. note: that's Limelight the club in Port-au-Prince; he's regularly covered by photographers and the press] in rebuilding Haiti. George Clooney has spent an enormous amount of time and undergone tremendous personal risk (including contracting Malaria [Ed note: Malaria was actually the name of the driver Clooney contracted to drive him around in Southern Sudan]) to keep the world alert to the atrocities in much forgotten Sudan. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have devoted not only millions from their personal fortunes, but also time and real effort into causes such as rebuilding New Orleans [Ed note: which they did! It's huge!] and the plight of refugees around the world [Ed note: they're still working on that]. Using their celebrity status and wealth, Bill and Melinda Gates have been able to gather billions of additional support dollars for global health causes [Ed note: they also channelled about ten thousand dollars to a guy name Stichko to stab Slavoj Zizek]
Yeah, come on. It costs more to fly any one of these jokers to their destination and then back to their holiday villa (stopping off for a junket in Monte Carlo or Tokyo) than on those Real Men videos, but . . .

I hope Demi and Ashton got their friends to produce the videos for free. It would pain me to see donor money wasted on neatly polished, silly ads when I know that as little as $100 can keep a girl in school for a year in Asia -- and thus likely out of the reach of traffickers. As little as $25 pays for a month of trauma counseling when a trafficking victim in Cambodia needs support to start a new life.

Hey, I know how they can earn that money!

1 comment:

Björn said...

Real men don't buy girls... they just take them?