Boos: I am so sick, sick, sick of every celebrity and every wannabe-famous-artist who is exploiting the Katrina catastrophe for his or her own publicity value – this applies as much to Dr. Phil (visiting refugees at the Houston Astrodome) and Michael Jackson (coming out of seclusion to say he’s now inspired to write or record a new song), and Harry Connick, and Wynton Marsalis, and, and, and… as it does to relatively unknown singers and musicians who are pledging to send money to help Katrina victims if you buy their CDs. I have nothing against Dr. Phil trying to help, but I’d have been more impressed if he had done so quietly, without attendant cameras to record his good deeds and broadcast his goodness to the world. Ditto for the others.
Perhaps in the above list I should include Oprah Winfrey. Her show yesterday spotlighed the aid efforts of Jamie Foxx and Faith Hill, but as a piece in The New York Times pointed out today:
“…unlike the politicians, musicians and movie stars who toured relief facilities and the news networks whose reporters were bound to let officials defend their relief efforts, Ms. Winfrey was able to turn her own cameras on the suffering, to have a celebrity physician tour medical facilities and diagnose injuries, to orchestrate family reunions…
For those of you too young to remember, The Magnificent Obsession was a 1954 remake of a 1935 movie based on a book of the same title by Lloyd C. Douglas. It starred Jane Wyman, who received a “best actress” Oscar nomination for her performance; Rock Hudson, for whom the movie was his vehicle to stardom; and Agnes Moorehead. Hudson’s role in this melodrama is that of a playboy turned philanthropist who learns that the greatest gifts are those given selflessly and in secret.
Bravos: I came across a website hurricanehousing.org, where individuals, ordinary folks, are offering free shelter to those in need. When last I looked, the site claimed “185,331 beds volunteered so far!” And the offers are coming from everywhere – New York City, Buffalo, Anchorage, Honolulu, Omaha, Providence, Seattle — the list goes on and covers the map. And many are offering more than place to sleep. I read descriptions that offered to help people find a job, enroll their children in the local school, buy clothing and food, and even take in pets. These are not wealthy people, and many make it clear that even though quarters might be tight, they want to help. This is true giving.