Under appreciated celebrity activists

In a perfect world, celebrities would use their influence to make a real difference in the world with no second agenda or fabricated promises. Rapper 50 cent, otherwise known as Curtis Jackson is an international superstar known mainly for his unpolished rapping. However, Jackson is actually on the board of directors of the G-Unity foundation which provides grants to non-profit organisations that work to improve the quality of life for low income and underserved communities. Not only this, but he has been an advocate for issues such as AIDS/HIV, at risk/disadvantaged youths, cancer, children, conservation, health, environment, poverty and veteran member support. An article in Elite Daily opens on the statement “contrary to popular belief, rappers are half-way decent people”. I find this a deeply uncomfortable sentence. There are celebrities such as Bono and Angelina Jolie that receive mass amounts of praise and media attention and there are people like not only 50 Cent, but Snoop Dogg and Kanye West who do not receive half the amount of support and commendation they deserve for their very generous donations and charity work. This is merely because of their status as a rapper in the western music industry. Another celebrity, in my opinion, that has not received the right amount of praise for her efforts in charity work is Mariah Carey. In 1999 Mariah received a congressional award in honour of her contributions to youth profits and non-profit organisations. There is no denial that a portion of celebrities, however big or small, use activism as a form of power play where they purely intend to make themselves look good. Celebrities that keep their charity work low key and humble and only bring it up when asked should be the way that global issues are promoted. There is no denial that heavily publicising issues and charities through social media does do some good in spreading awareness and so forth, but when the end game is for these celebrities to gain status and admirable recognition, it does seem like a double standard.

Reference List

Sonny, J 2013, ‘When Rappers Have Hearts: The Most Charitable Emcees in the Game’, Elite Daily, 7 August, viewed 27/08/2015 <http://elitedaily.com/music/when-rappers-have-hearts-the-most-charitable-emcees-in-the-game/>

2015, 50 Cent: Charity Work, Events and Causes, Look to the Stars, viewed 28/08/2015 <https://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/50-cent#related-news>

Why society thinks fat women and marriage don’t mix

Lindy West, a recently married woman has written an article for The Guardian based upon the fact that on her wedding day, she was the most overweight she had ever been. This reverts to the unpopular opinion about how fat woman should simultaneously be free of patriarchal standards as well as be able to participate in them, alluding to the point that woman should not be labelled by her weight as well as her personal choices on the day that she has chosen to celebrate her love for another person. In the case of this article, I am going to partly focus on the comments written on the bottom of the webpage, which range from strongly positive to crudely negative.

“This is the 21st century- fat women are allowed to get married”

“Unbelievable! I wonder if the guardian online would publish a piece promoting anorexia”

“You look great. Good article. Luck and love to you and your husband”

“I can’t help but think the author is projecting her own insecurities and fears. I mean, for an article claiming ones weight/size doesn’t matter, she certainly turns it into an issue”

“Being fat is unhealthy and dangerous”

“How desperately insecure must these women be? If you want to be fat then be fat but don’t pretend you’ve achieved something”

Yes, most of the few dozen comments were negative. It doesn’t really need to be said that many of the comments were completely inappropriate and arrogant. Being overweight certainly should not be condoned, but it definitely should not be belittled. In saying that, it is not the point of the article whatsoever. The point is that fat-shaming is still everywhere and still so acceptable to many. This woman has been told that she is less-than her whole life. If she does not need external validation from a patriarchal society she certainly does not need validation from a bunch of anonymous web users. There are many things that West says that I agree with. The foremost being that it is now a very common thought that the best weddings are the ones that are most expensive. This is a form of capitalist brainwashing that shouldn’t exist to 99% of brides to be. Couples should generate a wedding that directly reflects their values, values that will then stay with them throughout the duration of their future. The one sentence that does not sit right with me is the very end of the article where West states “this is yours, fat girls. Eat it up”. This is not helping the trolls, it is merely feeding them.

Reference List

West, L 2015, ‘My Wedding Was Perfect- and I Was Fat as Hell the Whole Time’, The Guardian, 22 July, viewed 27/08/2015 <http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jul/21/my-wedding-perfect-fat-woman>

The Headdress: ceremonial item or fashion statement?

Osheaga, a Montreal music and arts festival has recently banned First Nations headdresses in an effort to demonstrate zero tolerance for cultural appropriation. In a statement made on their Facebook page, Osheaga justified their decision alluding to the importance in respecting the cultural and spiritual significance of the headdress in native communities. In addressing limitations, there is not really a legitimate reason as to why this should not proceed to be a normalcy within festivals. Female festival goers in the modern day are spending a ridiculous amount of money and energy on attempting to appear as a quirky bohemian babe with a free spirit. Headdresses are not the only cultural artefact that has made its way to become a fashion statement, as the bindi, although a cultural and religious symbol for Hindu and Southeast Asian women has been worn by the likes of Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. In a nutshell, the disheartened girls that don’t get to wear whatever they want, even if it’s a cultural appropriation far from appropriate, is a small price to pay for a strictly ceremonial headdress to stay that way. As not even the indigenous peoples entitlement to wear the headdress would wear said headdress to a festival. Along with the headdress, Osheaga has also banned laser pointers, fireworks, drones and selfie sticks. The decision to ban the headdress is a decision that I believe to be respectable and earnest, however it does raise the question of why other things that may be deemed offensive aren’t banned i.e. tribal tattoos or anything that can be interpreted as having been inspired by tribal or Aztec culture. In a world where everything is appropriated, it is important to remember boundaries. In Australia, even though it has been centuries since the nation became whitewashed with European colonisation, we are more respectful and dignified than ever when it concerns the original inhabitants of Australia. In the case of native headdresses worn at festivals, it boils down to two distinct points of discussion: a strictly ceremonial item or an ignorant fashion statement.

Reference List

Marsh, C 2015, ‘Osheaga’s Headdress Ban Shows Festival’s Zero Tolerance For Cultural Appropriation’, The Guardian, 18 July, viewed 26/08/2015 <http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/jul/17/osheaga-music-festival-headdress-cultural-appropriation?CMP=fb_gu>

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Campaign

English chef Jamie Oliver has recently amplified his media personality through a campaign called ‘Food Revolution Day’ that aims to put compulsory practical food education on the school curriculum. At first glance, no one can argue that Jamie is doing this for egocentric or immoral reasons. In 2008, Jamie became a popular household name. With this status came a general consensus of ‘at least he’s doing something’; in relation to his series Jamie’s Ministry of Food. This introduces a key development into Jamie Oliver’s campaign for the education of school children; when did Jamie shift from a lifestyle expert to a moral entrepreneur (Hollows & Jones, 2010, p. 1). Jamie’s Food Revolution Campaign touches on many serious issues surrounding school food and education of food in the school system. These issues range from overuse of processed food, lack of funding and French fries being considered a vegetable. However, through close analysis of the Campaign and taking into account the actual results and reviews of Jamie’s ABC television series Food Revolution, it is clear that it is an abject failure- as in it did not set out to do what it was originally intended to. The issues on the show were all reduced to individual stories and choices, unable to deal with complexities or systematic issues (Gupta 2010). What keeps the viewer wanting more are the staples of reality television, as personal dramas, conflicts and sad moments make for an entertaining viewing experience. The same is said for Jamie’s Food Revolution website in regards to the extent in which change is foreseen. Jamie notes that there are things we can do in our personal lives such as challenge your work colleagues to a cook off, host a dinner party and try a new ingredient and make a meal from scratch. These acts (all asked to be done with Jamie’s recipes) are absolutely harmless. However there are limitations in regards to this. The foremost reason being expenses. In no way am I excusing the overweight population for their decisions, but the majority of time their reasoning for their alarming diets are costs of healthy and organic food. An obese co-worker will not spend a week’s grocery bill on the many ingredients used in a Jamie Oliver recipe, they will opt for simple takeaway. A working mother will tend not to cook every meal from scratch with a fresh farmers market ingredient, she will make something less time consuming. In this sense, although Jamie’s campaign is commendable in his efforts to make a difference, the more it is analysed the more it falls apart at the seams.

Reference List

Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, Food Revolution Day 2015, Food Revolution Day, viewed 25/08/2015 <http://www.foodrevolutionday.com/#dMCeMo04suGXjvGW.97>

Gupta, A 2010, ‘How TV Superchef Jamie Oliver’s ‘Food Revolution’ Flunked Out’, Alternet, 7 April, viewed 25/08/2015 <http://www.alternet.org/story/146354/how_tv_superchef_jamie_oliver%27s_%27food_revolution%27_flunked_out>

Hollows, J & Jones, S 2010 ‘’At least He’s Doing Something’: Moral Entrepreneurship and Individual Responsibility in Jamie’s Ministry of Food’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 13, no. 3, pp 207-322