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Celebvocates

Quote of the week: Michael Buerk

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Michael Buerk, British Museum, London, 2012“As a superannuated war reporter myself I’m a little sniffy about celebs pratting around among the world’s victims. I hate it when feather-bedded thesps pay flying visits to the desperate to parade their bleeding hearts and trumpet their infantile ideas on what ‘must be done’.”


- Michael Buerk, on “infantile” celebrities who lecture the public on world issues. He wrote this statement in a Radio Times interview he conducted with former soap star turned war reporter Ross Kemp. Buerk is an English journalist and newsreader, whose reporting of the Ethiopian famine on 23 October 1984 inspired the Band Aid charity record and, subsequently, the Live Aid concert.  He later anchored the BBC Nine O'Clock News and BBC News at Ten throughout the 1990s and has hosted BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze since 1990.

'Celebvocates': Mere Noise Versus Impact

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Celebrities and the causes they champion seem to go together these days like burger and fries. It is becoming the norm: Make a name, acquire a cause.

And we shouldn't knock that. It is good that the world's famous, rich and often beautiful people are also trying to do some good. I must admit, however, that it is difficult to avoid some skepticism. As an African, for instance, I am not always comfortable with the number of celebrities who have 'adopted' and claim to speak for my continent. Sometimes, watching one of them speak about Africa as though they owned it, my reaction jumps from mild irritation to rage.  In fact, the article that prompted this blog post (a piece in the winter edition of  FTWealth Magazine titled 'With or without you') contains some acerbic views regarding 'celebvocates' and what they get up to. Apparently, the journalist Brendan O'Neill calls it 'celebrity colonialism". And the writer Paul Theroux supposedly railed in the New York Times that: