Looking at the pictures of dedicated, anonymous plant workers risking their lives in Japan to prevent the meltdown of Fukushima’s reactor, I fell to thinking about all the unnamed heroes in the world, especially as it’s Comic Relief tonight. I find myself regretting that charity is so heavily reliant on celebrity to sell a good cause to the public.
The media is feeding on the meltdown, on the possibility of apocalypse. 24/7 TV news has created its own disaster narrative, with little focus on the actual people putting their lives on the line.
As for Comic Relief, the luvvie brigade is out in force, all turning somersaults for a good cause. This is great stuff on one level, but it raises the bar too high for many under-resourced NGOs unable to muster a sleb.
The media demands its sleb fix and charities spend more time wrangling turns than they spend finding a way of captivating the media with the stories that actually matter. It is surely time to put a brake on our interest in celebrity and invest our interest in the real heroes, the unsung people who risk their lives daily to keep us safe.
I’ve been talking about transparency a lot lately, and this is another good example for the need for it – these brave people, who may work in refugee camps or at nuclear power stations, are buried under a slew of celebrity, who often take precedence over, or are even given credit for, their work. It has got to the point where charities can’t get any traction without a shot of celebrity in the media’s arm.
Our culture could do with shining a light on the people behind the scenes instead of going for the easy PR fix, the cheap shortcut, the celebrity version of heroics.