Celebrity Charity: Is that an Oxymoron?

by JS 

Think back to your high school English days and the exciting discussions you used to have about oxymoron. You know those phrases like wicked good, terribly pleased, and old news. It was always fun to come-up with a few of them. But there’s a phrase that is often uttered in the media that I find to be an oxymoron.

Brad Pitt New Orleans Charity Work Celebrity charity.

Am I alone here?

Sure, celebrities do their fair share of good things. They show-up at charity events and raise money. They give their money to worthy organizations around the world. But how much good are they really doing?

More importantly, how much more could they be doing?

What really got me thinking about this is when Brad Pitt went down to New Orleans to build 150 Green Homes for those who lost their home because of Hurricane Katrina.

Brad Pitt held a press conference and said: “To build those 150 homes, we need the help of the American people. We need to all join together to do this. There is no reason why we can’t do a thousand homes.”

He was right and wrong at the same time. He was right that “there is no reason why we can’t do a thousand homes” but he was wrong when he said “we need the help of the American people.”

Do they really?

Seriously, all Mr. Pitt needs is the help of a few of his friends. In fact, just take the cast of Ocean’s Eleven (or any of the Ocean’s movies) and he would have more than enough to build 1,000 homes at $150,000 per home.

I don’t even need a calculator to come-up with the sum of $150,000,000.

Yes, that’s 150 million. And that is a lot of money.

But you know what? If just half the cast of Ocean’s Eleven – Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, and Julia Roberts – chipped in they could’ve easily footed the bill.

Together they probably make more than $150,000,000 with just one movie.

So why does Mr. Pitt need the help of the American people? Haven’t they already helped enough by going to the movies?

I’m kidding, of course. The American people do need to help others. But the stars in Hollywood need to do a whole lot more.

Because Brad Pitt is one of the good guys. He’s one of the more generous stars. (In all fairness he did give $5,000,000 for the Green Homes.)

There are many other celebrities who blow their money on $10,000 dinners while homeless children starve mere blocks away.

I don’t mean to be a downer, and I’m truly sorry if I’ve offended you in any way.

But I’m just sick of hearing about “Celebrity Charities”. It’s an oxymoron.

If Brad Pitt and all the rest would really give an amount of money that would cause them even a small amount of discomfort then they could really make major changes in the world.

They could really make a positive change.

Sadly, I don’t think it will ever happen. And I fear that “Celebrity Charity” will forever be an oxymoron.

[this post was featured in: Carnival of Personal Finance #168 at]

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8 Responses to “Celebrity Charity: Is that an Oxymoron?”

  1. Carnival of Personal Finance #168 - Fire Up the Grill, It’s Labor Day | One Caveman's Financial Journey on September 1st, 2008 5:39 am

    [...] Smart Money Daily – Celebrity Charity: Is that an Oxymoron? [...]

  2. Michael on September 5th, 2008 5:12 am

    Brad Pitt is giving a large amount of money, probably far more than you will experience in your life time and giving his time, probably weeks to actually work rebuilding homes and promoting giving to others like you who simply give $100 here and there and think they are doing a good thing for the world.

    For a ‘smartmoney’ site this seems awfully socialism minded. Maybe you should make some thing of yourself, build some riches, would you give it all away?

  3. Will Sanders on December 11th, 2008 4:11 am

    I think any one who gives a little,is doing more than most.That sounds stupid I know,but I am in the final few days of losing everything I own and I have worked all my life.My family will truly be homeless and penniless within days.I have no idea what the hell to do.I am ruined.I am sure this is not just me,we are losing america and americans because nobody gives a shit about our own.If you have good credit you can get an endless list of help.If you have good credit you would not need help,that is the oxymoron.

  4. Linda St.Cyr- Celebrity Charity Examiner on July 9th, 2009 4:14 pm

    First I want to say Thank You for linking to my article on the Armageddon Forum. I found it in my Google Alerts and thought the discussion was very interesting. So I decided to see what you had to say in response.

    I think your views are very interesting. I don’t see Celebrity and Charity together as being an oxymoron. I feel that celebrities have the limelight thus their actions whether good or bad will be shown by the media. I feel it is extremely important to raise awareness of different charities by showing what celebrities support them.

    Your assumption that Brad Pitt could have asked his friends from the movie Ocean’s 11 for money is just that, an assumption. Perhaps he did and they turned him down. No one knows for sure. Just because he is famous or other celebrities are famous and make money for their work does not mean they have too or should donate to charities. But the ones that do and that get involved with hands-on work should have it highlighted to encourage others to do the same.

    The way I see it is this… when people look at the skinny models in magazines they aspire to be like them… when they hear singers they like they try to mimic them.. when they see celebrities doing it… it becomes a fad/trend/whatever…
    so let the world see celebrities doing good works and donating money and time then maybe just maybe those people seeing it will want to do the same thing.

    Sorry this comment is so long. Again, thanks for posting the link to my article!
    Linda St.Cyr
    Celebrity Charity Examiner for

  5. ray on January 23rd, 2010 12:12 am

    you are definitely not alone here, great point! i totally, totally agree! there is also nothing wrong with giving 100 here and there if thats what you can do. it all helps and that comment just under minds people who don’t give zillions like brad pitt, what the stars do is actually the equivalent of 100 here or there relatively speaking.
    they have the money to take a week off and help and to give way more than some of us will ever make, they can also spend more on a car or a pair of shoes than some of us will ever make. for me to give 20 a month to red cross and two hundred over Christmas to various charities is probably way bigger than a multi million dollar star giving a weeks work and 1 million dollars.

    its great they bring awareness to charities, that is good but the example of seeing models and wanting to be skinny like them etc are very bad, that is exactly the kind if thing that can harm people and make them think these are good things to be but are unrealistic, unhealthy, over glamorized bad bad shit., a star who gives a tiny speck of mega millions is not a great example, it also teaches people its okay to just horde most of your cash on yourself and overspending , and you only need give a little bit to be a big hero.

  6. Cruz on January 5th, 2011 3:24 pm

    I am a college student and I work at a pizzeria to make money to buy books for next semester but everytime I spend money on something unnecessary like gum or candy I feel guilty because that dollar I spent can make a difference somewhere.

    I feel that celebrities can make a ridiculous amount of money off of the public. But the public lets them. All the movie watching, concert going, and song buying makes them rich. We made their millions.

    We expect them to be extraordinary people. People who would hopefully give more then half of their earnings to reputable charities. However, they are ordinary people. Me buying gum is like them buying some fancy dinner. They also could used that money to do something better with it.

    We should all work on being less materialistic. Give the money we could use to buy that coffee, sweater, brand name shoes, ipod, etc to reputable charities and it would make a difference. Just if the celebrities did the same but in proportion to how much they make.

    Celebrities are human just like us but hopefully the weight of all the money they have will make them feel more responsible fot the troubles of the world so that they can start giving more and then the public will follow. Just do more.

  7. Chris on May 13th, 2011 6:41 am

    I used to work for a celebrity — one who donated a ton of money to charity. I’m keeping his name anonymous because that’s the way he did a lot of his giving. And he isn’t the only one, so that’s one reason why you don’t always hear about celebrities and their donations. Don’t get me wrong — some are stingy and just don’t want to donate as much as maybe they could/should. But how many “normal” people do? He hosted his own charity event and a private citizen thought the thing was such a good idea that this person underwrote THE ENTIRE EVENT, so every penny raised went to the kids benefited by this event.

    And you also have no idea what happens when a celebrity donates a $100,000 to a charity. 100 more call up and politely say, “Since you donated $100,000 to charity x, it’d be great if you helped us out, too.”

    But I’m sure you checked out the celebrity charities that raise a lot of money and have low overhead — which means the celebrities pay the bills themselves or are very resourceful — before saying “But I’m just sick of hearing about “Celebrity Charities”. [sic] It’s an oxymoron.” For example:

    Bette Midler
    David Letterman
    Alex Baldwin
    Steve Martin
    Gloria Estefan
    Martha Stewart
    Candice Bergen
    Celine Dion
    Kelsey Grammer
    Lorne Michaels

    Out of curiosity, which celebrities turned down your interview requests for comment? Because I’m sure you would’ve asked at least a few before labeling the these celebrities as uncaring no-good-doers.

    And I accept your apology for being offended — thank you for offering it. How charitable.

  8. Billy on August 26th, 2011 3:16 am

    I agree with some of what you are saying. I agree that the american people need to come together, but not to donate money. Maybe contractors and other people that it takes to build a house and donate some of their time to do so. I think about this all the time for how many rich people are in just america alone, but yet we have all of these charity commercials on tv asking for people to donate pretty much anything they can and most of the commercials are showing kids that live in a different country, but yet we have a problem right here in america. So if all of the movie stars, sports players etc. just donantes a lil bit of money every month america would be a better place. Iv thought about this for along time. I’m sure a lot of people have!

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