Charity/Philanthropy

'We Have to Break in Our New Celebrities Slowly'

To Sierra Leone with Elizabeth McGovern

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I've always been curious about the relationship between celebrities and the causes they represent: who initiates the connection, how the celeb gets briefed, and so on. If you've wondered about the same thing, the London Telegraph's recent report on actress/singer Elizabeth McGovern's trip to Sierra Leone with the California-based charity World Vision will be illuminating. Or maybe her story is entirely atypical and doesn't illuminate much at all. Either way, it's an entertaining read:

ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA is a great movie.

[P]erhaps because it is a profoundly Christian organisation—[Sarah] Wilson describes it as "more Christian than Christian Aid"—[World Vision] is big in the United States, but has a relatively small presence in our more sceptical isles, where we are wary of anything that looks like proselytising (a spokesman confirmed that it sometimes uses charity funds to set up Christian education courses for those of other faiths).

I ask McGovern why, as a non-Christian, she chose to support World Vision rather than one of the many secular, apolitical charities, such as Unicef. Her answer is unexpected: she had no idea that it was a faith-based organisation. As it turned out, charity representatives failed to make their Christianity clear to her. This, they say, was an "oversight"; they had assumed that McGovern would take a look at the World Vision website (their logo is a shining cross).

"I was stupid not to realise it," she tells me later. "I think the people at World Vision assumed it would be obvious." McGovern has not withdrawn from World Vision, as "on balance, it is an organisation that does a lot of good for many people." In addition, World Vision has paid her band £28,000 to fund the recording of their latest album and a UK tour, in return for which they have agreed to promote the charity. Without this money, McGovern says, her band would "never survive".

I also enjoyed this impromptu political commentary:

"I get the impression that in Africa people have sex far more freely than we do back home," reflects McGovern. "You see certain cultures where there's just endemic cruelty to women. I wonder if World Vision would take on the problem of women wearing the burka? And that clitoris thing is awful."

On a more substantial level, the article includes some thoughtful commentary on the relationship between child sponsorship, broader forms of aid, and PR. When McGovern meets Jestina, the African girl her donations have been sponsoring, the author notes that "the money does not go to Jestina or her family, but is used for various projects in the area. The little girl is being used as the human face of her community, and McGovern is the human face of ours; it is a feedback loop of public relations." He doesn't declare this as a debunker—he goes on to say that those projects do good for the village, and thus presumably for Jestina—but to take a clearer look at what exactly the transaction we're witnessing actually means.

Read the rest of the Telegraph story here.

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  1. Sure McGovern is a bit of a nitwit. But she was a serious babe back in the 1980s. Stop screwing with my adolescence Jesse.

  2. it is a feedback loop of public relations.

    *pounds head on desk*

  3. “And that clitoris thing is awful.”

    Clits aren’t awful, they’re magical.

  4. And that clitoris thing is awful.

    Yeah, it’s terrible how the clitoris keeps trying to hide behind the prepuce. Who designed that shit, anyway?

    1. They should just cut it off or something.

  5. Did anyone see this?

    Argentina limits consumers to two international internet purchases a year in a desperate attempt to stop money from fleeing Argentina.

    Apparently The Economist has gotten so sick of Argentina lying about their economic numbers that they’ve banned Argentina from self-reporting economic statistics.

    1. Does that mean we should start crying for them now?

      1. Come on, man, you’re not supposed to cry for them.

        1. No. The are not supposed to cry for YOU. You can cry all you want. They don’t cry.

          1. Episiarch is Eva Peron?

      2. The Economist article where they announced they were no longer accepting Argentinian statistics was called ‘Don’t Lie To Me Argentina.’

        1. The Economist could suffer a 90% drop in journalistic quality and utter devastation of their editorial wit, and still be leaps and bounds superior to what we call “news” in the United States.

          Discuss.

          1. You mean another 90% drop since the Micklethwait 90%?

            1. I had to actually look up what the beef is

              I’m guessing = they are now, under his editorial leadership, completely in the bag with the “OMG GLOBAL WARMINGS DO SOMETHIN!!”-crowd?

              Which I have noticed a bit, but less so in the last 2 years.

              1. Big lurch to the left in general. Gradual decline in quality. I’ve long since dropped my subscription but didn’t they even recently endorse the ‘opposition to Obama is racism’ BS?

                I would read it cover to cover roughly 1995-2005.

                1. re: “cover to cover 1995-2005”

                  Same here, although my sub ran out in maybe 2008 and I never renewed. I guess I don’t see what you mean as much since I only check em out online from time to time these days. But it doesn’t surprise me. Even despite that, I’d *still* argue they are so much less retarded than most MSM news in the US that they still deserve props.

    2. needs more fish with teeth.

  6. In addition, World Vision has paid her band ?28,000 to fund the recording of their latest album and a UK tour

    is it still charity if you get paid for it? Not that I give a shit, but it seems contradictory in terms.

  7. apolitical charities, such as Unicef.

    Top lel.

  8. Kiva is the best way to directly help little Justina.

  9. MATT FUCKING DAMON!

    TEACHERZ!

  10. Is that picture Elizabeth McGovern or is it Jennifer Connelly who played the younger version of the character played by McGovern in Once Upon A Time in the West??

    1. Err, once upon a time in AMERICA.

      1. Connelly.

        You pervert.

    2. Looks like Jennifer Connelly to me.

      1. Except it’s not actually from Once Upon a Time in the West, it’s from Labyrinth.

        1. You sure its not The Dark Crystal?

          1. You’re thinking of David Bowie, and no, it was The Man Who Fell to Earth.

            1. I’m positive there were some puppets involved.

          2. It’s Phenomena you dolt.

            1. I was on the cusp of responding “Wasn’t that Andie MacDowell?” when I realized I was actually thinking of Phenomenon, but then saw that that wasn’t Andie MacDowell either, because I was actually actually thinking of the movie Michael.

              On a related point, whatever happened to Andie MacDowell?

          3. There weren’t any human characters in Dark Crystal.

            1. LIES. THOSE WERE JUST GREAT ACTORS.

              DeNiro once gained 3,200 lbs just to play the lead role in Eugene Ionesco’s ‘Rhinoceros’.

    3. Pretty sure that’s McGovern.

    4. It’s Connelly in the picture. She played the young version of the character and McGovern plays the grown up one.

      1. It’s Connelly in the picture.

        You might be right. I don’t remember where in the movie that scene came, and her face is too small in the picture for me to say for sure which one it is. I just went looking for photos of the character online and thought that one seemed somehow to fit the excerpt.

        1. The film was shot in 1983. McGovern was born in 1961 so was 22 at the time. She didn’t play her character as a child. Connolly who was 13 at the time did.

  11. I saw that photo, glanced at post, and angrily said to myself, “HEY! Once Upon a Time in America is a GREAT movie?!”

    Then I read the alt text and went, ‘hurh. derp’

  12. “I get the impression that in Africa people have sex far more freely than we do back home,” reflects McGovern. “You see certain cultures where there’s just endemic cruelty to women. I wonder if World Vision would take on the problem of women wearing the burka? And that clitoris thing is awful.”

    Yeah, African sex is VERY free if you’re a man. For example, in large swathes of sub-Saharan Africa, I am free to grab a woman off the street and rape her in order to ‘cure my AIDS.’

    I am then free to die at 40 from Kaposi’s Sarcoma.

    1. Not women, Irish. Virgins. Including babies to insure that they are virgins. I wish I was making this up.

  13. I wonder if she’s proud to play one of television’s most prominent job creators.

  14. Can’t be bothered to RTFA. Does it talk about how little Jestina and her classmates spend hours a day writing letters to donors, saying how wonderful life is since they sent money and how awful it will be again if they don’t send more?

  15. The thing about Once Upon a Time in America is that there are multiple versions.

    The studio ruined the theatrical release.

    That was also the first VHS release. So that’s the version most people know.

    The difference between the theatrical version and the director’s cut is even more profound than the difference between the two versions of Kingdom of Heaven. And that’s saying an awful lot.

    The director’s cut of Once Upon a Time in America is epic and grueling. By the time it’s over you feel like you lived the DeNiro character’s life personally, like Picard and that stupid flute.

    1. I didn’t see that movie in the theater. The first time I saw it was back in the 80s on HBO. And it was the long version director’s cut. I don’t think I have ever seen the theatrical version. Every person I know who is a fan of that movie is about my age and saw it on VHS or on HBO in high school or college.

  16. I wonder if World Vision assigned McGovern the job of firing their evil African nannies.

    She kicks ass at that.

  17. “‘World Vision has paid her band ?28,000 to fund the recording of their latest album and a UK tour, in return for which they have agreed to promote the charity. Without this money, McGovern says, her band would “never survive”.””

    God, you’re *that bad*? Half of my friends are mediocre musicians, and hell, they can self-finance a European tour every year. (Europeans have ZERO taste in live music – anybody is good over there) I thought she was at least still pretty hawt?

    also

    “The little girl is being used as the human face of her community, and McGovern is the human face of ours'”

    Why did I think of “The Terminator” when they kept referring to THE HUMAN FACE?

    1. Half of my friends are mediocre musicians, and hell, they can self-finance a European tour every year.

      But woudl they if someone wanted to give them the money instead?

  18. There was an interesting story about how celebrity comes to a cause on HBO’s Real Sports. Boomer Esiason was receiving some award at a fundraier for cystic fibrosis early in his career. He says he was completely unaware that it was a fundraiser or associated with a cause. Sports writer and CF activist Frank Deford was the featured speaker and told the moving story of the death of his young daughter from CF.

    Boomer said something inside him changed at that moment and he became an active sponsor of CF causes, visiting kids at Cincinnati area hospitals and raising money. He even made sure that all of his sponsorship deals included a commitment from his sponsors to support and promote his foundation.

    Years later his young son was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the same hospital that Esiason had been supporting all those years. An amazing coincidence. With all of the progress made in medical science, Boomer’s son is still alive and kicking in his 20’s.

    1. It is an amazing story and the progress is amazing as well. Many of those with CF live into middle age currently and life expectancies continue to extend. Two decades ago, it was an early death sentence.

  19. UNICEF is creepy. The name itself sounds like it was invented by George Orwell. Ingsoc. Minipax. Unicef.

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