January 24, 2010

Haiti - Benefactors or Not?

I'm puzzled. It's all because of the recent mega-benefit concert organized by George Clooney for the Haitian relief effort. The one that had all those instantly recognizable actors and musicians-- who shunned glamour and recognition and conducted themselves tastefully, and as anonymously as possible. Actresses normally viewed spilling out of scandalous dresses, actors usually heard swaggering, and musicians famous for hogging the limelight were all there, together, soberly dressed and working earnestly for the cause. A great number of them did the grunt work of answering the phones and accepting donations, introducing themselves to callers matter-of-factly. The ones who sang were not introduced or even captioned on the screen; they just did their job.

So, I'm confused. I always thought these people were born megalomaniacs, loving to strut and preen before anything resembling a camera or an audience. But, there they were, behaving as normal, regular folks... and believably. Now I don't know whether they are, basically, regular folks who put on their shtick for the sake of image and the commercial advantages thereof; or, if they are really megalomaniacs who are such good actors that they can mimic regular folks when the occasion requires. After the unrelenting lies and deceptions of the past decade, I have become very cynical about people, especially those who are in the public spotlight for whatever reason. I'd really like to believe that George and Brad are guys I could enjoy a beer with. And that Julia and Reese are totally approachable, unpretentious women who really care about the misfortunes of others.

I'd also like to know how much money all these 'artists' contributed themselves-- not individually-- but collectively... just to see if they put their own money where their mouths urged us. Did they mostly just donate their time and talent (which, I agree, is meaningful) or did they also chip in a bit of their immense wealth? If it's the latter, then I would have to change my jaundiced opinion of the Hollywood heroes, and have a little more admiration for them. Overall, tho, I expect to remain puzzled... and also cynical. Not to diminish the efforts of the cultural elite; but there is something a bit grating to hear those possessing fortunes exhorting the masses-- already suffering from the economic downturn-- to donate generously to organizations that include such dubious causes as the Clinton-Bush 'relief fund.'

As in all earthly matters, only time will tell. Eventually, the leopard's spots will appear, the skunk's scent will wrinkle noses, the wolves' disguises slip. And the genuine article will persist. I just hope all that money raised by the benefit concerts ends up going to worthy and productive causes and people.

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