When celebrities get involved in charities, there is always the publicists fear that a secret hypocrisy is lurking somewhere in their past. The unfortunate truth is, when dealing with people that will do almost anything for trinkets and attention, is that it’s never really a secret. But it is invariably one of those things that the establishment media are happy to brush under the carpet.
I worked in various charities as a fundraiser for many years. After nearly a decade in the charity sector my career had encompassed most forms of giving, and most sections of society. But at the beginning I was one of those telephone fundraisers working in private call centres that the big charities outsourced their minimum wage work to. I was ringing up people at home to ask for a few pounds a month. Over the course of any week I would talk to literally hundreds of people. Most of the time I was talking to some of the poorest people in the country. Because, if you ask any fundraiser off the record will tell you, are almost invariably the section of society who donates the greatest proportion of their incomes, and with the most regularity. The problem is, that when you go home on a daily basis having spoken to countless people struggling to live on state pensions, but who are willing to go without so that someone else won’t have to, it is difficult not to become cynical about the aggrandisement of multinationals and the 0.1% lecturing the rest of us on giving.
Back in 2004, I was only just starting out in charities. Like many of my colleagues, the only way to manage the moral dissonance was to self-medicate, and after being on the wagon for years, I found myself struggling not to get pulled under its wheels again. Then, one night in the pub, with most of my earnings circling the urinal, someone mentioned that a reality TV celebrity had done a great impression of moral indignation during an interview on Radio 1. I went home, shakily, and started doing some research.
When I eventually sat down to watch the Band Aid 20 video, the hypocrisy seemed to leap off the screen. Tax avoiding millionaires and corporate schills were all sanctimoniously pointing their fingers at the people I spoke to on a daily basis. These self-styled ‘artists’ had the audacity to delegate responsibility for combating economic inequality at the feet of the people who had more chance of dying from hypothermia in their homes than they ever had of off-shoring their earnings. Corporate flunkies who lived lavish lives of opulence, funded by the blood and sweat of child and forced labour around the world where, without any shame, telling the rest of us that it was our responsibility. I was incensed.
When I write articles, I tend to try and give myself some time to calm down between doing the research and before I actually start writing. Well, I do now anyway. If I remember correctly, and looking at this article, my only guess is that I was too angry to take a moment before I started writing.