Since becoming an international development student at Newcastle University, I have heard an alarming amount of backlash towards celebrity activists. Ive lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen Angelina Jolie’s face plastered on a PowerPoint presentation representing a “white savior”. I’ve heard criticism against Emma Watson, Bono, and every other actor or musician who has become an activist. These activists are not promoting westernization or destroying culture by raising awareness, so I continue to ask my peers, what is it that they hate so much about these celebrities?
The only “valid” argument that I have heard is that there are people who have worked their whole lives in international development, have fought to be in the field, and are on the ground doing the work without being recognized. I’ve heard that it’s “unfair” that a celebrity can just join a campaign and start working in international development to fight against racism, sexism, poverty, world hunger, and fight for other human rights. All in hearing is “It’s not fair that I’m not famous for international development”. And sure, the men and women who spend their whole lives working in international development SHOULD be recognized globally, but that’s not the world we live in.
Have we forgotten why we are here? What kind of my fellow students, professors, and other people trying to pretend to be if they want fame for it? That’s not our job. Our job is so help developing countries whether that be in education, feminism, business, refugees, world hunger, poverty, proper medical care, vaccines, the environment, wildlife, etc. If you are only helping the world for fame, and you are hating on others who want to help-no matter their social status- you need to revaluate what you are doing with your life.
Maybe some celebrities raise awareness for attention, but I do not believe that most celebrities do not care about what they are speaking up for. Do you really believe that when Emma Watson has spoken at the United Nations for feminism, that she was doing it for attention? Do you really believe that UN ambassador Angelina Jolie adopted 3 children, works around the world for human rights, and spends every chance she gets to speak up for the world just for attention? Shame on you for not being proud of them for using their voices to make global change.
If it were not for Angelina Jolie, I wouldn’t have known what the United Nations was when I was only a child. I watched her on the news with her newly adopted son as she spoke for human rights around the world. It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to be just like her. These celebrities are inspiring people to get into international development and to fight for human rights.
Yes, there are millions of people who fight every day for this world, but they all had someone who first inspired them to join. There is nothing wrong with someone who has a larger voice than yours to stand up for justice. I’m sorry that you feel the need to hate on someone who is fighting for the same things you are out of pure jealously.
We will never become as famous as A-list actors and famous musicians, because that’s not the field we chose, and I hope that no one forgets that again. We will be famous to the lives we touch in the field of international development and that’s the only thing that matters