The 5 Most Unintentionally Offensive Things Done For Charity
Charity is a good thing. That's true in theory, at least. But like anything else in life, it's rife with scandal and corruption. The news is riddled with stories of misappropriated funds and dishonest bookkeeping, so much so that it barely registers as news anymore. However, that's not the only way charity can go awry. Sometimes it's just downright offensive. We talk about some of the most egregious examples of condescending or otherwise awful charity efforts on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
Evander Holyfield Fights Mitt Romney
The Internet was aflutter with giggles last week when the news broke that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney squared off with former Mike-Tyson-ear-biting victim Evander Holyfield in a charity boxing match. Most of the jokes centered around the fact that Romney was shirtless and how Holyfield was undoubtedly in dire financial straits to accept a gig of that nature.
Sure, all of those things are true, and I'll admit it is kind of funny to watch, but am I the only one who finds it all a bit ... uncomfortable?
Here's the thing: This happened in Utah, a state whose population is somewhere around 60 percent Mormon. Romney is also a Mormon. With all that taken into consideration, it's safe to assume there were more than a few Big Love types in the audience.
Stupid religion, great show.
Now, what do we know about Mormons and black people? Enough that the topic has its own Wikipedia page. Blacks weren't allowed to enter the priesthood or take part in any ceremonies at LDS temples until 1978. The reasoning for that came directly from Brigham Young himself:
"Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to."
Technically, none of this should matter, seeing as how it's all in the past and such. And I would have been completely on board with that line of thinking, if only this didn't happen:
Please tell me he's just having a heart attack.
That's right; at one point during the fight, Mitt Romney knocked Evander Holyfield down. Granted, it was staged and that was very obvious, but the crowd completely lost their shit when it happened. I know it's barely my place to be offended, but goddamn, given their stance on race relations throughout history, seeing Holyfield pretend to get beat up by Romney for the enjoyment of an arena full of rabid Mormons feels gross to me.
For fuck's sake, leave Batman out of it.
That's Ann Romney, all dressed up to be part of Mitt's "posse" for his big fight with one of those cursed dark-skinned people. Still feeling good about this fiasco? If so, maybe you won't when you see that she added a huge gold chain to the ensemble once she was ringside.
I mean, is Evander Holyfield a rapper? At last check, he definitely is not. Basically, this is Ann Romney throwing on her flyest Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air wear for no other reason than because there's a black person in the room. The only way I'd endorse any of this is if it was all an elaborate plot on Holyfield's part to get close enough to Mitt Romney to land one solid, professional-boxing-level punch to his face.
British "Lad Comic" Makes Charity Christmas Album Out Of Rape Jokes
Right off the bat, I don't know who this motherfucker is at all. His name is Dapper Laughs, and he's an entertainer from England who's described as a "lad comic." I also don't know what that is, but I do know that "lad mag" is a term used to describe publications like Maxim. That's a name I tend to associate with frat boy types, who in turn I often associate with sexual assault.
So I guess it's no surprise that Dapper Laughs earned his spot on this list by way of recording and releasing a charity Christmas album full of rape jokes. In case you're wondering what such a thing would sound like, and I know you are, wonder no more:
That song is called "Proper Moist," and honestly, I'd be fine boycotting it solely on the grounds that those two words have never belonged together in any context ever. If you'd like even more details, the website usvsth3m.com has a detailed breakdown of every terrible fucking minute of the rest of the album.
Unsurprisingly, the stunt didn't go over well. The charity it was meant to benefit, a homeless shelter cleverly named Shelter, outright refused to take the donation. The aforementioned usvsth3m.com encouraged readers to donate money for every song they didn't listen to instead.
I know you're all thinking, "Yeah, but it's not like this shithead has fans who would bother listening to this stuff, right?" No, that would be too easy. While it's true that a quick stock photo search for "Dapper Laughs" returns several photos of well-dressed people having a chuckle, like this one of Robert Goulet and his wife ...
Will Ferrell reference!
... and not a single one is the "comic" in question, he's definitely not anonymous. He's got enough of a fanbase to have his own TV show, if that tells you anything about anything. At least, he did until a petition to have it canceled started making the rounds after comic Lee Kerns wrote a blog post accusing ITV2 of helping to create a "rapist's almanac" by airing it. They eventually agreed and dropped the show from their lineup, which is cool, but it does nothing to explain how it ended up on the air in the first place.
When a collegiate or professional sports team plays in a major championship game, they often print up T-shirts to have on the ready in the event that they actually win. It's a well-known fact that when those teams don't win, those shirts are often shipped off to third world countries, where a "New England Patriots Super Bowl XLII Champions" shirt can clothe a starving child for up to six months. I made that last part up.
Also, goddamn I want one of those shirts.
Last year, a charity ostensibly aimed at clothing the homeless in this country expanded on this idea in what turned out to be a rather unfortunate manner. It was a website called HoboJacket.com, and the idea was simple: Fans of a particular college or university could purchase a jacket emblazoned with the logo of their rival school and donate it to a homeless person. Because see, that way, your mortal enemy will be super ashamed that such human garbage is wearing their logo.
Sounds shitty, right? Of course it does, and the makers of the website even acknowledged as much when they bragged that buying a jacket was the "politically incorrect but right thing to do." At least one part of that statement is accurate, and it's not the part about doing the right thing. If you're unsure, that would be to just donate money to a charity that helps the homeless. Or hell, just go buy a jacket and give it to someone who's sleeping on the street.
Seriously, they're everywhere!
No matter how good the ultimate intention may be, if you're doing it at the expense of a segment of society that's already among the most shamed and ostracized of all, you're being an asshole.
Plenty of people agreed with that sentiment, enough that the site was eventually taken offline. According to the source I linked to earlier, the creators of the site also posted an apology, but when I clicked the link, it redirected me to a website called freefuckbook.com. Either their site has been compromised or they're just as awful at apologizing as they are at helping the homeless.
Listen: No matter how much you want it to be true, social media is not always an effective vehicle for change. Especially when the sacrifice involved amounts to tweeting less-than-attractive pictures of yourself to your throngs of adoring followers. That's you, celebrities!
I refuse to believe that a single information-challenged soul has ever stumbled upon a picture of a famous person waking up first thing in the morning and thought, "Shit yeah, I should look into what's happening in Syria."
Also, if Naomi Campbell looks like this in the morning ...
... it's because she was up all night mercilessly beating the help and hasn't been to bed yet.
That's her entry in the #wakeupcall selfie campaign, which indeed had the previously-stated aim of generating awareness and funds for children affected by the conflict in Syria. That's a noble goal, don't get me wrong, but do we really need this kind of thing to inspire us to be charitable? I know you can argue that this is just an innocent case of celebrities using their fame to promote awareness of a good cause, but you could just as easily argue that it's celebrities exploiting a tragedy to further their fame on social media. They could just tweet a link like so many other people do, you know? Every natural disaster doesn't have to be an opportunity to make your wacky selfie go viral.
Hugh Grant could have ended the conflict in Syria in the time it took to make this happen.
Stuff like this and the Ice Bucket Challenge add a layer of lighthearted showboating that isn't necessarily needed or warranted to activism, given the gravity of the situations they're meant to address. By going to such social-media-savvy lengths to direct attention to a crisis, celebrities are really just making it about them, inadvertently or not. I'm sure their efforts do at least some good in the end, but they'd achieve the same results without trivializing human suffering by turning it into a meme.
Band Aid 30
Every ten years for the past three decades now, Bob Geldof has thrown a dart at a map of Africa and released the exact same all-star charity single, "Do They Know It's Christmas," to benefit victims of whatever tragedy happens to be plaguing that particular area at that moment. The lineup changes every time (except Bono; where there's charity, there's always Bono), but the sentiment remains the same: Africa is a joyless hellhole that can only be saved by an assembled army of musicians from the UK.
With that in mind, it won't come as much of a surprise that each release is met with a healthy amount of criticism. The original version was called out by Morrissey, who described it as "absolutely tuneless," before adding, "one can have great concern for the people of Ethiopia, but it's another thing to inflict daily torture on the people of Great Britain."
It's not just that it's a shitty song, though. It's also regularly called out for its patronizing and demeaning view of Africa. The 2004 version, which was meant to raise money for food in Darfur ...
... was shamed by the World Development Movement for featuring lyrics that were "patronizing, false and out of date."
Last year, Geldof assembled the troops once again, this time for the benefit of Ebola victims in West Africa.
This time around, musicians like Lily Allen joined in on the obligatory chorus of critics who realize this song should have been retired shortly after it was released. The most damning criticism came from a musician named Fuse ODG, who balked at a line that says "there's no peace and joy in West Africa this year" on the grounds that he goes to that very region every year at Christmas, for the sole purpose of getting a little peace and joy. He also criticized the entire concept of Band Aid for promoting the idea that Africa is a disease-infested, poverty-stricken wasteland when seven of the world's ten fastest-growing economies can all be found there.
It's also worth noting that the population of West Africa, the area most impacted by the Ebola outbreak, is 70 percent Muslim. If they do know it's Christmas, they probably don't care.
Adam will donate absolutely nothing to anyone if you follow him on Twitter @adamtodbrown.
For more from Adam, check out 4 Creepy Visions of Hell From Real Near Death Experiences and 5 Insane Police Forces No One Ever Talks About.
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