Celebrities in Global Development

Authored by: Karin Gwinn Wilkins

The Routledge Companion to Global Popular Culture

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415641470
eBook ISBN: 9780203081846
Adobe ISBN: 9781136175961


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Celebrities champion global development, bringing public visibility to poverty while spotlighting neoliberal strategies as heroic adventures. The wealthy few are applauded for their noble gestures toward helping the projected grateful beneficiaries. These narratives of individual sacrifice and benefit draw attention away from more complex and contextual issues of inequity and injustice. Issues of global development are of serious concern, with an increasing gap between the wealthy and the poor, impending environmental consequences to human industry, and enduring concerns with human rights. In efforts toward resolution, global development schemes require massive financial capital, steered toward strategic social change, applauded by audiences of celebrities glamourizing development processes. Following a brief articulation of global development as an industry, I turn to the roles of celebrities within this landscape, considering their characterization in narratives that position sanctified heroes as rescuing romanticized victims at the mercy of depoliticized villains. I conclude with concerns over the implications for engagement in global development.

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