John And The Issues Of Celebrity Humanitarianism

1524 Words Nov 27th, 2015 7 Pages
ELTON JOHN AND THE ISSUES OF CELEBRITY HUMANITARIANISM A phenomenon that has been prevalent since the 1980s, the topic of celebrity humanitarianism has accumulated vast amounts of literature and critiques. Here, I will focus on the critiques that are the most relevant to Elton John: the complicated interactions between celebrity motivations, celebrities’ role as communicators, and the unaccountability of celebrities.

Celebrity Motivations Underlying the many critiques of celebrity humanitarianism is often the issue of celebrity motivation. Although the public would like to believe that celebrities become involved in humanitarian work because they are altruistic and kind-hearted, most scholars agree that celebrities are motivated at least partly by reputational or monetary gain. Development scholar Ilan Kapoor argues that humanitarian work is frequently used as a public relation tool that “softens the image of crassly [commercial] entertainers” and “diverts attention away from the [embarrassing] elements of celebrities’ lives”, building positive “brand-images” where they are portrayed as caring and compassionate individuals (Kapoor 2013:20). He argues by building these brand-images, celebrities increase their popularity through increased positive media exposure, leading to more favourable opinions of their character and increased sales of their works. For example, Angelina Jolie saw her “likeability” doubled in the six years she has been involved in humanitarian work and…
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