Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A lesson in points missed

With the best will in the world, I have to question what Mia Farrow thinks she can accomplish with her latest project. Having given birth to the Devil, and been partner to several legends, she's now a humanitarian activist with a big heart and a shocking perm. Incensed by the global indifference to the crisis in Darfur, she's opted to do something to shake us from our apathy. She's going on hunger strike - usually the reserve of dissidents and terror suspects.

Mia has decided that the world will care more about the displacement of 2.5 million people if she stops eating. Despite the fact that she looks like she's a couple of weeks away from her last decent meal anyway. In fact, it's not so much a hunger strike as a sponsored starvation, just without the sponsors.

I can't fault her commitment or passion. But I do question the logic of her action, since the only people likely to care about this are the lazy showbiz journalists looking for an easy story. Possibly the worst offender is Us Magazine, which manages to spectacularly miss the point, time and time again.

Covering Mia's valiant effort, the magazine's website starts off well, by articulating her agenda and the preparation she undertook. But within a couple of paragraphs you can clearly see their attention wandering, as they start to find ways of connecting this article to other (more conventional) stories in their archive. First, Mia mentions Darfur, so Us interrupts the story to link to a travelogue of places in the world that Angelina Jolie has visited.

Mia talks about the damage her body might suffer from her endeavour, so they link to 'other stars who underwent shocking weight transformations'. Best of all, when mentioning George Clooney's support for Mia, they can't help but link to pictures of gorgeous George before he was famous. All in all, it gives the feeling of Newsnight presented by a Heat reader with attention defecit disorder.

I think it's wonderful that celebrities occasionally use their privileged position to raise awareness and engage the public. Unfortunately, the only people who tend to care what they're doing can be just as easily distracted by a picture of a kitten dangling from a window sill. So keep at it Mia, just don't be surprised if people flick past your article to read about Paris Hilton's next parking ticket.

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