|BRING THOSE UNGUIDED STARS DOWN TO EARTH.
15 May 2006
An excellent venture has gone astray. Its purpose was to mobilize for U.N. causes. A limited number of stars with
proven dedication to a specific purpose would have more impact on the public than wily politicians. They were initially
designated, about six of them, to carry the torches as envoys or messengers. The first was Maestro Luciano Pavarotti
in 1998. He is now so weary of the project that he would hardly respond to bungling clerks asking him to appear at a
certain location to sing!
There were a number of impressive individuals with undisputed impact who through their work or life provided inspiration.
However, the shameless self-promoters saw in it a networking opportunity, a device to introduce themselves rather than
the causes in need of support. Suddenly, staffers with any influence will try to connect with their favourite actor or
singer to offer a designation of sorts. Everyone was going to Hollywood rather than the field. Some also went to Wall Street
or its equivalents in Europe and the Gulf countries. At a recent dinner for UNESCO "Special Ambassadors" in Paris, certain
wealthy Arabs found themselves assembling at Place Fontenoy rather than their usual gathering at the restaurant of the
Suddenly, we have gossip stories of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (and the lonely life of the delicious Jennifer
Aniston) splashed everywhere with Ms. Jolie's designation as special envoy for U.N. refugees. Even Drew Barrymore was drawn into
"heading" what was dubbed as "Friends of the U.N." Were it not for the "Lobster Risotto" concept, she would still be
best friends. U.N. compound was open to movie takers (?), in return of course for an exacted price, certainly not in U.N.
rewards. Nicole Kidman was the latest addition to a somewhat pleasantly surprised Noeleen Heyzer of the U.N. Fund for
There is an urgent need to control this situation. It is not only the circus atmosphere. Problems often arise
when stardom is mixed inadvertently with a public cause. In the case of Ms. Jolie, it is not her bragging about her
sexual life -- which isn't an exemplary role model anyway. It is the friction arising with media anxious to cover
her delivering a baby in Nambia. Reporters claimed harassment, cameras broken and journalists arrested. In most of these
complaints, her U.N.-related role is mentioned. Is there no one to clearly advise her to separate fame and fiction from
real life miseries?
Another problem is in publicity-seeking envoys who seek to display poverty-stricken malnutritioned women and children.
In seeking to inflate their egos, they are humiliating millions of needy people and their rightful causes. There is an
increasing number of stars, quasi-stars and "wannabees" trying to exploit the already exploited poor of the world -- and
with encouragement by some U.N.-related characters.
A worthy venture is turning into a worldwide embarrassment. It is important for the Secretary General -- or possibly
the new Deputy Secretary General -- to take the matter in hand. It is time to bring those unguided stars down to earth.