It's a strange day when I find myself nodding at the wisdom of former Jackass star Steve-O, but I'm completely on board with his recent post about celebrity ice bucket challenge videos. He first shared a clip of himself carrying out the now-familiar act of dousing himself in freezing water, then asked, "I'm all about helping causes, but did this raise any awareness at all?”
He went on to post a statement on Facebook decrying celebrities for not doing more to create awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. While Steve-O's opinion isn't likely to be a popular one, I see exactly where he's coming from -- and I agree more money could have been raised if so many celebrities hadn't turned their participation in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge into personal vanity projects.
When you consider the countless A-list celebrities who have actively gotten behind this cause by posting videos—the fact that not more than fifteen million dollars has been raised is a tragedy ... most of them just poured water over their heads and named three random people. Had all those celebrities given this cause any thought, hundreds of millions of dollars might have been raised, and a whole lot more awareness.
I'll go one further and suggest that most celebrities aren't just naming three random people -- they're angling for more press by name-dropping other celebs. Like 50 Cent calling out/taunting Floyd Mayweather in his video (oh no he di'n't!), or Gwyneth Paltrow challenging her ex Chris Martin (aww, their conscious uncoupling is so friendly). You've got celebs making headlines for their wet T-shirts, bikinis, or post-challenge nakedness, you've got Lady Gaga who of course had to make her video super weird and vaguely creepy.
Most celebrities aren't posting a thing about ALS or even providing links to donate. So I can absolutely see what Steve-O means when he says that opportunities have been wasted.
Still, who could have possibly predicted that this challenge would go as viral as it did? Regardless of whether most celebrities truly have good intentions or they're just jumping on a bandwagon in order to score some free promotion, the bottom line is that millions have been raised, and that's a good thing. A spokeswoman with the ALS Association points out,
Only about half of Americans two weeks ago even knew what ALS was, and now we have an incredible amount of celebrities saying ‘ALS’ and raising awareness. And the monetary contributions are absolutely amazing.
Anthony Carbajal, an ALS patient, shared a heartbreaking video in which he said of the challenge,
This is the first successful advocacy [ALS has] ever really ... had and I’m so, so, so grateful. You have no idea how every single challenge makes me feel, lifts my spirits, lifts every single ALS patient’s spirits. You’re really, truly making a difference.
So maybe it doesn't matter if by and large, celebrities' challenge videos are self-serving. Still, it would be nice to see more A-listers following in actor Zachary Levi's footsteps, and devoting at least part of their oh-so-viral video to talking about why it's important to donate.
What do you think of the growing trend of celebrity ice bucket challenges? Do you agree with Steve-O at all?
Image via YouTube