Social issues: is celebrity support needed to combat them? Greenpeace argue not

With social issues prevalent across the globe, many champion the work of celebrities that use their power to benefit the masses. Some organisations generally argue that the celebrity endorsement of causes is important to making a profound difference. However, there are those who doubt this, arguing instead that celebrities simply spread awareness and fail to garner any real support. ‘The support of individuals is what we need,’ hark Greenpeace’s press office, ‘collectively, we’re stronger.’

Leonardo DiCaprio with his Oscar post-speech at the 88th Academy Awards. Photo courtesy of Disney, ABC Television Group. Some rights reserved.

Following Leonardo DiCaprio’s recent acceptance speech at the Oscars in March, Greenpeace’s Graham Thompson said, ‘climate change is now on society’s agenda.’

Rare is it that acceptance speeches warrant genuine applause but DiCaprio’s certainly did. Instead of painstakingly thanking his second cousin twice removed, the actor spoke out about climate change by using the world’s stage to shed light on, ‘…the most urgent threat to our entire species.’

As DiCaprio veered off from the usual gratitudes and pleasantries, ‘he painted himself a caring environmentalist,’ according to Climate Change Coalition’s press office.

World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) Mike Olendo claimed that although DiCaprio’s plea was, ‘really useful,’ his impact was probably, ‘bigger in the USA as statistics show that much support hasn’t been rallied in the UK.’ However, Greenpeace’s Graham Thompson claims that, ‘continued celebrity support is extremely beneficial to causes everywhere.’

DiCaprio has, since the 90s, considered the reality of climate change bolstered by the fact that in 2014 he was appointed the United Nations’ representative on climate change whilst in 1998, he set up his very own foundation that, ‘is dedicated to the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants.’

According to Madeline Finlay-Hudson, a peer, ‘DiCaprio shames those in a position of power that appear to do so little for anyone other than themselves, he sets a brilliant example of how status should be used and many other celebrities should follow suit.’

Also making a stand against the existing social conditions has been director Quentin Tarantino. As well as empowering black people within, ‘Jackie Brown’ and ‘Django Unchained’, Tarantino also took to the streets of New York City to join in the ‘Black Lives Matter’ rally in October 2015, whereby he spoke out about the, ‘institutional racism that’s bred within [American] law enforcement.’

Despite being referred to as a, ‘cop hater’, Tarantino continues his support for the cause which has been well received by the majority of social media users, ‘Quentin Tarantino has said more about “Black Lives Matter” than your favourite rappers,’ tweeted @GabbieAJ, in solidarity with Tarantino’s efforts.

Here in the UK, long time TV personality and bipolar sufferer, Stephen Fry is focused on combatting the stigma that surrounds mental illness, ‘I want to speak out, to fight the public stigma [attached to ill mental health],’ he told The Independent’s Jonathan Owen in 2006.

In 2013, Fry was appointed president of the UK charity ‘Mind’, who provide advice and support to those facing psychological crisis’. Bipolar and borderline-personality disorder sufferer, Kirath Pahdi, thinks that, ‘Fry’s advocation is inspirational as he offers hope to those in similar situations.’ With statistics suggesting that, ‘1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year’, a spokesperson from Samaritans said that Fry’s help is, ‘invaluable.’

However, after contacting many organisations, apparently further support is rarely rallied through celebrity advocation. WWF’s Olendo said that a surge in donations and support following DiCaprio’s climate change plug at the Oscars, ‘was not seen.’ However, the inside organisation also claimed that celebrity support does not, ‘hinder,’ causes.

Contrastingly, Greenpeace’s Thompson claims, ‘there is no denying that celebrity advocation helps to bring about change as many celebs have large reaches.’

What can you do to help?

Despite lobbying on the behalf of organisations and celebrity advocation, social issues are still prevalent. But there are things that we, as independent citizens, can do to help combat the issues covered in this feature.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, individuals, in order to reduce their carbon footprint, can use water more efficiently, give cars a break and recycle wherever possible.

Whilst Black Lives Matter long for continued support in order to push, ‘for criminal justice reforms across the United States.’

And in regards to psychological welfare, Clinical Psychologist & Mental Health Advocate, David Susman (PHD) in 2015, claimed that in order to reduce the stigma that surrounds ill mental health, we’ve not to, ‘label people who have a mental illness. People are people, not diagnoses.’

So there are things that we, as individuals with small reaches, can do to help combat social issues but as is widely acknowledged – together, we are stronger. And with so much help widely and universally accessible, many would argue that change is within reach.

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