Too Beautiful to Help the Poor?

Ilona Burton

Angelina+Jolie+Visits+Pakistan+Earthquake+67ehtdw17q1l 300x226 Too Beautiful to Help the Poor? Angelina Jolie – love her or hate her – has been splashed across headlines again, pictured wearing a dark veil on her recent visit to Pakistan to meet with the president and view for herself the widespread devastation caused by floods. Something about this coverage really got to me though, and it is something that shouldn’t have – the majority of reports were critical of Angelina and some (namely the Daily Mail) even skirted completely around the reason for her visit, only filling column inches of close-up pictures of her wrists, ‘gaunt’ face and presumptions that she was wearing ‘coverup’ attire to hide her painfully thin figure. Forget what the hell she was actually there to do, let’s just all slag her off, that’s surely more important. On the lesser end of the scale, yet still fairly cynical, other reports did at least acknowledge the extent of Jolie’s humanitarian work, but still managed to condemn her by scoffing at her airmiles. It seems that whatever she does, wherever she goes, however much money she donates, it is never enough to earn an ounce of respect from the majority of the media.

Considering Angelina’s relentless filming schedule, family commitments (she has six children: three of her own and three adopted) and whatever else these Hollywood bods squeeze into their busy lives, I find it astonishing and quite inspiring that she manages to put all that aside enough to fulfil her demanding role as a UN Goodwill Ambassador. She may have her flaws – don’t we all – but nobody can deny the seriousness with which she approaches her work with the UN and nor can they say that she is not simply a good person. So why is it that she is constantly subject to journalists putting her down? Two things come to mind: ignorance and/or jealousy.

“Ignorance, the stem and root of all evil” Plato – dramatic eh? But it’s true, we bitch about the things that are obvious about Jolie (her looks, her fame, her wealth, her bloody airmiles) because it is easier to do so than to research and acknowledge all the good she does all over the world – people would much rather slag off celebrities and enjoy snarling at them than praising them. I believe wholeheartedly that had the journalists who were so quick to judge her motives actually taken the time to consider her work apart from that of an actress, they may have come to a much fairer conclusion about her as a person.

  • 2001 – Angelina became a UNHCR Goodwill Amabassador after visiting refugee camps in Cambodia (whilst working on Tombraider), Sierra Leone and Tanzania
  • Pakistan have awarded her the honor Khanum Sahiba – the equivalent of being made a lady
  • Jolie self-funds all her missions and visits and insists on sharing the same rudimentary working and living conditions as all her colleagues
  • 2005 -  National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children, an organization that provides free legal-aid to asylum-seeking children with no legal representation which Jolie personally funded with a donation of $500,000 for its first two years
  • 2006 – Jolie announced the founding of the Jolie/Pitt Foundation which made initial donations to Global Action for Children and Doctors Without Borders of $1 million each

That’s not all, but it gives a taste of just how much work she takes on and whether you are impressed or not by that, it proves that she does a hell of a lot more than the rest of Hollywood put together, oh, and the people who write the damning reports on her.

I also wonder whether the tendancy to turn our noses up at her we hear she has given another $1,000,000 (yes, that many 0’s) is down to jealousy. We usually direct our nastiness towards people when we are jealous – none of the bitchees would admit it, but the sly undertone could likely be due to the fact that they are talking about one of the most beautiful women on the planet. Bob Geldof doesn’t get this shit.

I can understand why people may dislike her, but to dismiss her aid work is smallminded and childish. The refugees themselves may feel (well, how would I know how they feel?) not so positive towards her – an A-list actress trudging through their wartorn villages – but she gives them a voice that otherwise may not be heard. Maybe it is true that some celebrities take part in charity events to attract attention, to make themselves feel they are doing some good in their otherwise perfect lives or to promote their comeback album, but Angelina Jolie is above all that – she wouldn’t need to go to these lengths for any kind of career boost – this, at least to me, is real, passionate and inspirational.

“We cannot close ourselves off to information and ignore the fact that millions of people are out there suffering. I honestly want to help. I don’t believe I feel differently from other people. I think we all want justice and equality, a chance for a life with meaning. All of us would like to believe that if we were in a bad situation someone would help us… you go to these places and you realize what life’s really about and what people are really going through. These people are my heroes.”

Angelina Jolie, 2001, after her trip to Sierra Leone

P.S She’s not paying me for this.

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  • Nullius

    Well said. But when you write:

    “I also wonder whether the tendancy to turn our noses up at her we hear she has given another $1,000,000,000 (yes, that many 0’s) is down to jealousy.”

    Surely there should be three fewer zeros – $1,000,000,000 is a *billion* dollars (a thousand million).

  • ilona burton

    Oops, tiredness beat me.

  • Peter Kessler

    Hi Catherine,
    Nice piece. Angelina Jolie is keenly interested in the people here, no so much the short VIP meetings that also arose. She spent most of her time with refugees and Pakistanis who were affected by the floods, connecting with them, listening to them. She’s certainly not doing trips like these to collect air miles on PIA or for a night in UNHCR’s cramped staff house in Peshawar.

  • naya88

    Why don’t they just appreciate Angelina? Can they enumerate other Hollywood actresses/actors donating money and time to highlight the plight of refugees or doing charity work? Most have charities, but they donate only thousands, which are still appreciated. Why don’t they appreciate the fact that instead of focusing on designer bags, dresses, accessories, high-society parties, and fine art (which is her right), she’s sharing her money with the downtrodden?

  • Warren Buttery

    a great piece on an average person doing the above average

  • Taz Winkel-Opleier

    Regardless of our political and religious opinions getting the better of actual donations, Jolie has clearly been a positive influence in keeping the devastation under media gaze. Millions have been displaced and hundreds have died in this calamity. It would take years to build up the infrastructure in a country otherwise torn by the scorn of feudalism, poverty, militant Islamism and hopelessness. Jolie has been a spark of light in otherwise dour times.

  • Guest

    When one thinks what Paris Hilton can do to help, in the United States alone, with poverty
    no one can ignore, nor expect to exist in this richest and most powerful country in the world. And she can well more than afford it.

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