Some people believe famous people’s support towards international aid organizations draws attention to problems, while others think celebrities make the problems less important. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

Angelina Jolie supports UNICEF. George Clooney speaks of the problems in Darfur. These days almost every charity has a celebrity attached to it, raising awareness of problems and spreading the message. Although there are some who feel this diminishes the work and cheapens the issues, I think a wisely chosen and intelligent celebrity brings enormous benefits in this area.

Obviously choosing the wrong name, or a person who cannot articulately or intelligently speak on the subject and is merely a face, has the potential to backfire. In this case the cynics are certainly right: the celebrity should not be involved and any good work could be undermined. Yet one should not assume that fame cannot equal brains and compassion; in the cases in which a high profile figure is knowledgeable and supportive then backing aid programmes is better than selling merchandise or self-promotion.

It is therefore important that aid organizations pick their associations carefully, and are not afraid to cut ties they feel the famous face is using it for increased exposure and credibility. Of course, we cannot choose our fans – and if a well-known figure speaks of support in an unofficial or personal manner, then that is merely freedom of expression – but when cooperating in an official capacity they owe it to their programmes to get it right. Successfully do this and I do not feel authenticity has been harmed.

To summarise, whilst there are potential pitfalls I do not have any problem with the using of a public figure to back a good cause if the support is genuine. The examples listed at the beginning – Jolie and UNICEF, Clooney and Darfur – prove that not only is this possible, but it works. Hopefully their work will help bring solutions in their respective missions.