One of my pet peeves is when celebrities get on their soap boxes and start telling me what to do, who to vote for and how to spend my money. I get it, what better way for a cause to get the word out than to have a famous mouthpiece do it for them? But isn’t it a bit hypocritical on some level? I mean, can we really listen to someone sitting on a multi-million dollar fortune tell those of us with a meager savings, or even worse, those living paycheck to paycheck, that we should donate to such and such cause?
What set me off this morning was the news that Ben Affleck and friends, including Sophia Bush and Josh Groban, are going to live off of $1.50 a day for five days. Their purpose is to bring to light the issue of worldwide poverty for Live Below the Line, an organization whose mission is to change the way the U.S. views worldwide poverty. Keep in mind that Affleck’s net worth is valued at $65 million.
The worst offender, along with Affleck, are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The two of them are forever telling us about those less fortunate, while they themselves are sitting on a net worth of $270 million. How do they spend their money? Well, they employ 12 nannies to help take care of their six kids. I would never consider myself a math genius, but even I know that’s two nannies per child. That sounds like a complete and utter waste of money in my humble opinion, and therefore gives them no credibility on the subject and makes me want to do the opposite of what they’re asking me to.
I know these celebs give a lot of their time and money to a lot of causes. But let’s face it, they have way more time and way more money than the majority of us. While tooling around on Look to the Stars, I found that most celebs support, or have supported in the past, approximately 30 charities. Given their salaries, that sounds like a completely reasonable number to me.
I’m certainly not saying they should live below the poverty line. I understand that they have worked hard, earned their money and they deserve to spend it how they see fit. But come on, you want to do something for those less fortunate? Donate your salary from one film and get your friends to do the same. I’m not talking your salary from a little indie film, I’m talking your supersized salary from a blockbuster.
Am I being unreasonable, or are you being greedy, because according to Vision of Earth, it would take $175 billion over 20 years to eradicate worldwide poverty. Again, I’m not a math genius, but it seems to me that if Hollywood got together they could eradicate it in half the time. I’m just sayin.
Several years ago, Morgan Spurlock had a reality program on F/X called “30 Days.” For 30 days, he would immerse himself, or others, into an alternate reality. In the first episode, he lived at poverty level with his wife. Not only living off a meager amount each day, but he worked as a dishwasher, rented an apartment, and rode the bus. I don’t want to get sidetracked, but it was a really good show and it currently streams on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out.
With all this talk about $1.50 a day, it got me wondering what my family lives off. I spend an average of $100 a week at the grocery store. It comes out to $14.29 per day, and there are three of us, which is $4.76 each. Not a lot by any means, but enough for us.
The reality is no one wants to be told by uber rich people that we should be helping poor people, when we ourselves are only a few rungs away on the ladder of life. There are thousands of worthwhile organizations that are worth all of our time and extra money. Figure out what you can afford to give each year, find an organization close to your heart, and donate. And Ben, if you really want to get my attention, live off a middle class salary for at least a month. And not just you – your whole family. Then maybe, just maybe, I might listen to you.
PS – If you want to know what your favorite celeb is worth, there’s a whole website devoted to it, www.celebritynetworth.com.