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The X-factor of charity: a critical analysis of celebrities' involvement in the 2010 Flemish and Dutch Haiti relief shows

Olivier Driessens (UGent) , Stijn Joye (UGent) and Daniël Biltereyst (UGent)
(2012) MEDIA CULTURE & SOCIETY. 34(6). p.709-725
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Abstract
In our contemporary mediatized societies, philanthropy seems to be part of celebrities' ontology, while celebrities have become indispensable for the charity industry. This has provoked both negative and positive appraisals, although the specific nature and consequences of celebrities' involvement remain unclear. This article contributes to these debates by providing a systematic analysis of the roles celebrities play in telethons, which we redefine as charity media events, allowing us to study the shows in their full contextual complexity as ideological constructs. Applying qualitative content analysis, we have analysed two charity media events following the 2010 Haitian earthquake. In general, four distinct roles have been discerned: celebrities add an aura of exclusiveness and glamour, they render distant suffering relevant to domestic audiences, they function as principal motivators, and also contribute to the commodification of charity. Celebrities' involvement thus reinforces charity media events' dominant discourse of charitainment, in which a disaster is portrayed as a short term problem that can be remedied by supporting relief aid. Although this analysis does not disregard the usefulness and impact of fundraising campaigns and the contribution celebrities can make, it criticizes the oversimplified representation of complex issues and the decontextualized and depoliticized interpretations of distant suffering.
Keywords
DISCOURSE, MEDIA, celebrity, charity media event, charitainment, disaster, distant suffering, fundraising, qualitative content analysis

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Chicago
Driessens, Olivier, Stijn Joye, and Daniël Biltereyst. 2012. “The X-factor of Charity: a Critical Analysis of Celebrities’ Involvement in the 2010 Flemish and Dutch Haiti Relief Shows.” Media Culture & Society 34 (6): 709–725.
APA
Driessens, O., Joye, S., & Biltereyst, D. (2012). The X-factor of charity: a critical analysis of celebrities’ involvement in the 2010 Flemish and Dutch Haiti relief shows. MEDIA CULTURE & SOCIETY, 34(6), 709–725.
Vancouver
1.
Driessens O, Joye S, Biltereyst D. The X-factor of charity: a critical analysis of celebrities’ involvement in the 2010 Flemish and Dutch Haiti relief shows. MEDIA CULTURE & SOCIETY. 2012;34(6):709–25.
MLA
Driessens, Olivier, Stijn Joye, and Daniël Biltereyst. “The X-factor of Charity: a Critical Analysis of Celebrities’ Involvement in the 2010 Flemish and Dutch Haiti Relief Shows.” MEDIA CULTURE & SOCIETY 34.6 (2012): 709–725. Print.
@article{1969336,
  abstract     = {In our contemporary mediatized societies, philanthropy seems to be part of celebrities' ontology, while celebrities have become indispensable for the charity industry. This has provoked both negative and positive appraisals, although the specific nature and consequences of celebrities' involvement remain unclear. This article contributes to these debates by providing a systematic analysis of the roles celebrities play in telethons, which we redefine as charity media events, allowing us to study the shows in their full contextual complexity as ideological constructs. Applying qualitative content analysis, we have analysed two charity media events following the 2010 Haitian earthquake. In general, four distinct roles have been discerned: celebrities add an aura of exclusiveness and glamour, they render distant suffering relevant to domestic audiences, they function as principal motivators, and also contribute to the commodification of charity. Celebrities' involvement thus reinforces charity media events' dominant discourse of charitainment, in which a disaster is portrayed as a short term problem that can be remedied by supporting relief aid. Although this analysis does not disregard the usefulness and impact of fundraising campaigns and the contribution celebrities can make, it criticizes the oversimplified representation of complex issues and the decontextualized and depoliticized interpretations of distant suffering.},
  author       = {Driessens, Olivier and Joye, Stijn and Biltereyst, Dani{\"e}l},
  issn         = {0163-4437},
  journal      = {MEDIA CULTURE \& SOCIETY},
  keyword      = {DISCOURSE,MEDIA,celebrity,charity media event,charitainment,disaster,distant suffering,fundraising,qualitative content analysis},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6},
  pages        = {709--725},
  title        = {The X-factor of charity: a critical analysis of celebrities' involvement in the 2010 Flemish and Dutch Haiti relief shows},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0163443712449498},
  volume       = {34},
  year         = {2012},
}

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