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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Should stars get involved in aid efforts?
Actor Sean Penn bails water out of a boat as he attempts to rescue people stranded by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans
Michael Jackson is one of many celebrities to have joined the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Jackson has written a song for victims which he plans to record with other artists and release as a charity single.

Sheryl Crow, Rod Stewart and Paul Simon are among artists who will perform at a televised charity concert on Friday.

Other Hollywood celebrities such as Steven Spielberg and George Clooney have donated money to the relief effort, while rapper Kanye West openly criticised the Bush administration's response and Sean Penn joined the rescue effort himself.

Should celebrities get involved in causes such as the Hurricane Katrina relief effort? How helpful are their contributions? Send us your comments using the form on the right.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views received:

Absolutely. In North American culture, celebrities wield enormous power and influence on society at large. Since they have more resources at their disposal, they should use them to help others and focus attention where it is needed...
Lisa, Toronto, Canada

At times like these no one is celebrity, we are all one kind, human kind!
Marcela Sensie, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Go for it, but why not give some cash instead.
DW, Chicago USA

Celebrities are people too, just like the rest of us. Do we question each other's motives for helping charities and fund raising? So long as those in need are being helped in anyway, who are we to judge why and where the money comes from. It's the thoughts and actions that count.
Caroline Brennan, London, UK

Yes celebrities should help, as long as that is what they are doing rather that self-promotion. During 9/11 the actor Steve Buscemi went to his old firehouse and worked the 12 hour shifts to help. Not for the recognition but because he had something just as valuable as money to give - his skills. We must remember that under the glitz and glamour there are celebrities out there who have skills and can help and if they can use their status to help then good on them.
Caroline, US

For anyone to criticize them for helping out is simply churlish and mean-spirited
JM, Baltimore, MD, USA
If Sean Penn to wants to travel to New Orleans to help out when he could have stayed at his Malibu beach house watching the disaster on TV, then good for him. Celebrities are human beings, and for anyone to criticize them for helping out is simply churlish and mean-spirited.
JM, Baltimore, MD, USA

I feel celebs like Sean Penn and Steven Spielberg are being genuine in getting involved and trying to make a difference. But then feel there a lot of celebs who are doing it for their own personal gain and feel Michael Jackson is one of these along with a string of UK celebs who where at Live8 and other charity events.
Peta, Hampshire

Yes, stars should get involved. Everyone should be helping everyone. There should be no one saying no.....
Trish, Swartz creek, USA

If celebrities want to get involved, there is nothing wrong with that. We live in such a celebrity obsessed culture that some of the victims of Katrina will be heartened to see their favourite stars trying to help. Celebrities often seem to live in a secure world, cocooned from everyday life, so it is nice to see that some of them want to help those less fortunate.
Liz, Worthing, UK

Well done to the celebs who are using their fame for something positive
Jay, London, UK
Whether we like it or not celebrities have a lot of influence over their audiences. If we see them on TV doing good things, it sets a good example and hopefully more people will do the same. Well done to the celebs who are using their fame for something positive.
Jay, London, UK

Many people will see the move by Michael Jackson as a cynical attempt to rebuild his public image. They are, of course, entirely correct to think this.
Matt, UK

It all depends on how they help. Leading by example making donations or providing practical help is laudable. On the other hand, the celebrities who appeared in the finger-snapping "Make Poverty History" ad campaign, looking down at us with their patronisingly accusatorial facial expressions before going back to enjoying their super-rich lifestyles seriously annoyed rather than inspired me.
Nina, London, UK

Celebs are good for only one thing - charities
Barbara, USA
I don't have a problem with it, however, when they start to preach on politics, there is no place for it. This is what ticks me off. I don't have the money to get on TV and tell my view; therefore I am sick of them preaching on TV. Celebs are good for only one thing - charities.
Barbara, USA

The self-publicity that a number of stars are seeking when they associate themselves with good causes is rather unsavoury, but if it raises awareness and money through extra publicity, then it's a necessary evil. But no more celebrity TV documentaries, please!
Peter Stiles, London, England

It's not about donating cash - it's about raising awareness. Stars have the ability to raise awareness and therefore they have a moral duty to get involved.
Tom, Manchester, UK

Celebrities are concerned citizens just like anyone else. They are also better able to give financially than most others. In addition, their actions may inspire their fans to follow suit.
Michael Cobham, Barbados

Yes, celebrities should certainly get involved as much as other citizens, however their involvement shouldn't be reported by the media any more than they report the individual efforts of the tens of thousands of other people who are probably less able to afford what help they're giving.
Steve, Oxford, UK

The only thing they should do is donate some of their huge fortunes anonymously
Dawn, Sweden
The only thing they should do is donate some of their huge fortunes anonymously to the charities that are doing the donkey work there. I think it's tacky and so last century having musicians performing benefit concerts and gaining credit for it.
Dawn, Sweden

I think celebrities should get involved and give donations, they are far richer than members of the public, it's great to see them visiting the disaster zone and making an appearance. What makes me mad is when people like Steven Spielberg who's a multi-millionaire donates $1million. As well as that I totally agree with Kanye West, George Bush has not done himself any favours by the way he has addressed this disaster
Jude, NI

I think in this celebrity obsessed world we live in now that people forget that 'celebrities' are still human beings just like the rest of us. They have the same urge to help their fellow man as we do and as long as they are not looking to be self-serving in providing help then I see no reason for them not to do so. They are, unlike myself, in a position where the money and position they have gives them a greater opportunity to help - Travolta flying his jet in being a prime example of using your good fortune to help others.
Abigail, Truro, Cornwall

Should celebrity status remove from an individual the right to freedom of speech? I think not. Aren't our elected leaders celebrities of sorts? Of course stars should get involved in relief efforts, in whatever capacity they personally deem to be appropriate.
Harry Webb, Broadstairs UK

If they could do so without saying anything or posing for cameras, it would be better appreciated....
Daniel, USA

I feel that everyone should help out in the best way that they can. This means that the stars should help out by holding benefit concerts and performances. They should be raising money and not necessarily helping to hand out water or fill sand bags. Stars should be raising money, Politicians should be freeing up money and cutting red tape, Truck drivers should be delivering supplies; doctors should be setting up clinics, etc. The last thing I want to see is George Bush handing out water bottles, I think his time could be much better spent in the leadership role at the moment.
Kevin, Boston, MA USA

Anyone who can use mass communication for such a noble cause should do so
Yureeda Qazi, Karachi, Pakistan
Anyone who can use mass communication for such a noble cause should do so. Thus stars should also contribute towards the nation's efforts for the victims of Katrina.
Yureeda Qazi, Karachi, Pakistan

I don't doubt that Michael Jackson has genuine sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Katrina but I also don't doubt that he is desperate to improve his reputation and this is all too convenient for him. I think he should stay in the background of celebrity support and stop trying to be the centre of attention.
Jo, Brentwood, UK

I'm sure when you have lost everything you don't mind whether it's a celebrity or some average Joe helping you out. But yes, it's good that they get involved, they send out a positive message and seem to be doing a bit more for the cause than the government. Well done to them.
Alan, Teesside, UK

I think that anyone who can help should. I appreciate that celebrities are lending a hand, as they are as capable as any. Good for them!
Rachel, Canada

Let them get involved in the effort quietly as no one really cares what they have to say. Celebrities are so used to getting the attention they seek that they somehow think they have something more enlightened or special to say than the average citizen. All too many are simply self-serving in the guise of helping others.
Allen T, CA, USA

Instead of criticising people who help, shouldn't we be criticising people who do nothing?
Stewart, Sheffield, UK
Why not? If they have the money to give and the fame to encourage others to do so, then surely their involvement can only be a good thing. I fail to see why their involvement should be questioned. Instead of criticising people who help, shouldn't we be criticising people who do nothing?
Stewart, Sheffield, UK

Well done Sean Penn, actually risking his own life to help others, not using it to relaunch his career like I suspect Michael Jackson might be doing.
Beth, Nottingham, UK

It's good to see the stars of Hollywood stepping out of their mansions to help the little people by doing little or nothing, criticising those in charge and making themselves feel better by giving themselves more publicity.
Jason Rice, Crawley, Sussex, UK

Why not? It raises awareness and they have the money to help. John Travolta took his own private jet to drop food parcels. Why shouldn't they? I would, if I had the means. Just because they are famous, doesn't mean they shouldn't be concerned, and help in any way they can. Even if it is for publicity, so long as it helps the people abandoned by their country who cares? I don't.
Sarah, Doncaster, UK

It's a tricky one and I can see why some may resent celebrities for getting on board. But if they can genuinely exploit their stardom in a way that makes people and politicians listen then this is a good thing. Sean Penn was out on boats with rescuers helping survivors getting his hands dirty. One may disagree with celebrities getting involved in fundraising, but when the federal government is doing very very little, do you blame them?
Ben, London, UK

They mostly do it for the publicity
Wendy, The Hague, Netherlands
Ok, I am a cynic but I think they mostly do it for the publicity. Why else would they be so sure to let the media know how helpful they're being? All help is accepted, but the motives of some celebs are questionable. If I were a victim of one of these disasters, I don't think I'd feel very grateful hearing that Michael Jackson had just written a song for me.
Wendy, The Hague, Netherlands

Celebrities should give money and just stay out of the way with relief efforts. Sean Penn did not join rescue efforts. He came down, rented a boat, filled it with his entourage and photographers. Then it leaked and the motor quit so he had his photo op of him bailing water. He had to be rescued himself, which took away from the relief efforts!
Sylvia Kelly, Lexington, KY, USA

Absolutely - if 100% of the profit goes towards the people of New Orleans. If not it's not the first time celebs have used a disaster in their favour.
Polly, England

Very few actually offer practical help
Nilesh, London, UK
Celebrities often just jump on the bandwagon and feel obliged to be doing a charity show or fundraiser. Very few actually offer practical help such as Sean Penn and John Travolta, who actually went out there and helped out on a practical basis. The people of New Orleans do not need money. They need shelter, food and basic comforts. Some still need rescuing.
Nilesh, London, UK

It's pathetic, really. So-and-so from Hollywood (in need of a bit of free publicity) gives so many thousand dollars (big cheer from all us lesser mortals). Up come the speeches about how awful George Bush is and how this is going to change the way they view life. Yeah, right - so you'll all be giving up your holiday homes to those who've lost theirs and staying in New Orleans for the foreseeable future, helping get everything back to normal as quickly as possible? No, thought not.
Vanessa Bailey, Bristol, UK

Of course they should! They make me buy their clothes, their sunglasses, their food, and their exotic holidays. Why should they not equally make me follow their causes?
Felix C, London, UK

I could count on George Clooney to give me attention, help and a sense of dignity in a crisis before our current president
Bobby, New York, USA
Yes, stars should get involved in relief efforts. It's the civilised thing to do. As a Black American, I feel in my heart that I could count on actor George Clooney to give me attention, help and a sense of dignity in a crisis before our current president and his administration would. I have not seen footage of George Bush handing out food and water to storm survivors. But I have seen Faith Hill and Jamie Foxx on The Oprah Winfrey Show doing that. Shame on you, Mr Bush.
Bobby, New York, USA

Of course celebrities should get involved. Celebrities raise awareness and are able to contribute as much, if not more than anyone else, so why shouldn't they help? Helping is universal, and every piece of contribution, no matter what the size is always needed.
Steven Tuong, London, UK

The contributions made by celebs like Sean Penn, John Travolta and Oprah Winfrey are a helpful gesture to the people who have lost everything. Well done to them for taking the initiative and providing a positive attitude to the relief effort.
Sehr, Kent, UK

It is a welcome development. There is nothing wrong with celebrities helping in time of crisis. Anybody is welcome to help when crisis strikes. Their involvement will help to motivate and influence other people to either volunteer or send in donations. The same people they are helping are the ones who equally buy and watch their movies and listen to their music. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Whether you are a celebrity or not, do whatever you can to help the victims of Katrina. May God comfort them.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

In this instance I think Michael Jackson is more interested in rebuilding his own image than doing the same for New Orleans. These pop stars have the money to donate to such causes without needing to sell a self-promotional record to do so.
Frank, London, UK

Those who say this is a publicity stunt by Michael Jackson must remember that he has a long history of charity singles from We are the world to Heal the world to What More Can I Give? He has raised money for many causes (including 9/11) and there is no reason why his motive for releasing this record should be any different from those before it.
Ben Wilson, London

In response to criticism such as Frank's, I can only say that Michael Jackson doesn't actually have to do anything at all. An awful lot of hard work goes into producing a record. The world should be grateful to Michael for the many millions of dollars he has personally pledged to charities as well as money he has raised directly through musical efforts.
Christo, London, UK

Jackson writes song for hurricane
07 Sep 05 |  Entertainment


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