Last night was the Emmys. I can’t believe I forgot all about it! Though the three-hour spectacle was meaningless, exit polls showed that the magnolia ribbon, worn by host and presenters, to remember Katrina, boosted the spirits impoverished victims—many of whom have no access to TV anyway—by as much as zero percent.
The poverty that endangered thousands in New Orleans was starkly off-set by glimpses thousand dollar earrings, diamond necklaces, stretch limos, and the screams of adoring fans. Apparently, by people’s approval, these are our heroes. I even heard that two lucky hurricane survivors were going to be given an Emmy makeover, so—at least for a little while--they could be more like our glittering examples of the good life. Just as well, maybe after a disaster we should stick to what we do best: making things over, rather than honestly dealing with the issues.
After hurricane Katrina, poverty is on everyone’s lips, especially celebrities. People are pointing fingers at filthy rich businessmen like Paul Allen, but no one seems to mind if Oprah or Madonna lives in opulent luxury…because they give us warm fuzzies. Paul Allen does nothing to fill the space in my empty life. But did you see Felicity Huffman’s dress?
Personally, I think it’s even more offensive when these celebrities get out of their stretch limos and then try to talk about hurricane victims. The women are stick figures models--draped in thousand dollar dresses, and diamonds. The men are no better. They perpetuate a level of superficiality unattainable by the average American. But we’ll try because we’re told to try. In a society with winners and losers, they are among the champions. I don’t blame them for getting rich or being rich. I guess I do find fault with so many millions of Americans who want to talk about poverty and emulate people whose hardest decision in a given day is which joke to tell or what shoes to wear to another award show.
If any filthy rich people are going to be singled out I hope it will be these. At least a business man provides jobs. Say what ever else you will. People like Ellen…help us laugh? I want to meet the person who was distraught on the couch until Ellen came on to give that person reason to live.
The problem is not rich people. They are simply the victors in a society whose rules allow for winners and losers. You can own a $5000 dress, live in the Hollywood hills, and command the ear of millions of Americans. Or, you can go without health care, live on food stamps, and have everything you own washed away in a hurricane because you could not afford insurance. That is the problem.
The Emmys tried to help us laugh. But probably what they really did was help America get back on-track to the things it loves best: entertainment and luxury. It bothers me that those people are idolized—and thus rich--for no good reason. And it bothers me that they come out in force to try to talk about poverty when the person working the night shift in a factory, making $10 an hour provides more of a service to society than their attempts at humor.
The multimillion dollar companies our favorite celebrities work for will also be similar to the companies moving into New Orleans, buying flooded property at low prices and renovating it to sell at higher prices… because the people who lived there before can not afford to do that. This happened after the Civil War too by Carpetbaggers.
While everyone else tries to take advantage or leverage their conscience with Katrina, you should too. Put on a magnolia pin and remember Katrina. And make sure you run down to the mall and buy those $100 jeans because your favorite actress wears them too.
The last thing that should happen is that those who were neglected before this disaster end up losing even more. Because, you know somewhere someone is thinking of a way to turn this disaster into financial gain. That is one thing. But I hope we keep poverty on our hearts and minds, after the celebrities have gone back to their gated homes. Until it becomes a national agenda, like defense, the rich will stay healthy and the sick will stay poor.