Celebrity Charity is Still Charity

Celebrity Charity is Still Charity

By Marko Knezic

Charity for self-glorification: Charity none the less.

I have a new source of disgust: Loud mouth, short sided pundits that rant and rave about celebrities that make charitable contributions for the sake of “self-glorification.”

The proverbial last straw was pulled for me today when I read something today that stated that the fact that NBA superstar Lebron James’s decision to donate all advertising revenue from his one hour ESPN special to charity was “The most transparent use of charity for the sake of self-glorification I've seen since I saw some actor do it yesterday.”

So what?

The fact of the matter is that when celebrities donate to a charity, support a cause, or show interest in something, it generates attention to said cause and results in additional help for people in need.

Lebron’s ESPN special titled “The Decision” is dedicated to James’s decision regarding what team he will play for in the National Basketball Association now that his current contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers is expired. ESPN gave James the airtime for free in exchange to the rights of the program. Is this special treatment? Yup. But that is one of the perks of being a celebrity. On a more important note, James agreed to these terms set by ESPN under the condition that all advertising revenues be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of America. Bravo.

James is one in a long line of celebrities that donate to charities. Angelina Jolie has donated over $3 million of her personal wealth to United Nations Refugee Agency, in addition to being their goodwill ambassador since 2001. Action star Jackie Chan, who grew up in China, donated $100,000 to Chrysalis, a Los Angeles-based charity fighting homelessness. Nicholas Cage and Celine Dion each donated 1 million dollars to Hurricane Katrina relief. And the list goes on; for miles.

Does it matter what their goals were when they made these donations? If they did it to increase their box office appeal, did their efforts help any less? The definitive answer is no. People in need still benefited from these donations.

Still not convinced? Let’s take this one step further.

Let’s say that say that Satan sprung from the depths of Hell for one day and held a press conference in which he stated that he was looking improve his reputation. In order to do so, his many PR representatives have instructed him to donate a sizable amount of his wealth to an assortment of charities all over the world, no string attached.  Should we take the money? Does it matter that the physical manifestation of evil is donating it? Is it unethical to take it?

Yes. No. Irrelevant.

Of course that last example is a bit sensational, but sometimes it takes an over-the-top argument to make a logical point.

At the end of the day, a person’s motivation to donate to charity has no bearing on the end result of the donation. If the person or entity is donating to improve their appeal to the general public, it is up to the public themselves to be swayed by those efforts, but the people in need will be helped regardless of public opinion.

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