Saturday, November 5, 2011

Make-A-Wish Requests & Famous People

I've got a LOT going on in life right now and I swear I'll be writing on it. Some of it is still developing but there are issues that have been sitting for ages that I simply haven't addressed. Here's one now.

You may have heard about the Barefoot Contessa refusing to meet a Make-A-Wish kid who has lukemia. This article talks about what is off limits for charity wish-granting & a little bit on this issue.

When I heard about this, I remember thinking the Barefoot Contessa was a bitch. I kind of still do (and I've got no interest in that realm) but when I read the comments section, it got me to thinking a bit on the issue.

Apparently, one commenter knew a terminal patient who asked to meet Reba McEntire & her staff or whomever plans her meetings scheduled multiple patients. The person relaying this story got mad because (in this person's opinion) it was a feeling that the patient was not all that special and got neglected in this process. Another person pointed out that celebrities are super busy & don't have time for meeting sick kids. One even said outright that they hated the presence of charity wish-granting groups because it was extortion, particularly against famous people & anyone else who'd feel disparate impact from negative publicity.

Reading that, I do have to agree with the point on extortion. Think about it: if you're an actor (the most visual people in the industry & let's fact it, the most likely candidates to get asked about meeting sick individuals), you already have to do a ton of traveling, physical endurance tasks & plenty of other things that make that life not so glamorous if you're the one living it. Should we essentially make famous people go meet those sick kids from Make-A-Wish? I think it'd rub me the wrong way being friends with people who have a shot at being well known or have some acclaim already if the press were calling them a heartless piece of garbage for not wanting to meet little Johnny Sick Kid.

There's a credible argument here: if you'd not want you or your friends being trashed for politely declining to meet someone or date them, why should it make a difference what one's health is like or if it's their "wish?" Isn't in a bit similar to not giving money to the panhandler who's using their child or physical condition to beg for money? What about not wanting to date someone who has threatened to kill himself/herself if you break up with him/her? Should you be held responsible for someone else's condition? That negative publicity aspect is a tough one & it is something to think about.

The other side of it is, of course, "But Sick Kid is DYING & meeting XYZ famous person is his/her dying wish!! It would be so nice for the person to do it."

Yeah, it would. But should it be a mandatory requirement? Should people be forced to be altruistic? What if that celebrity lost a family member to that child's disease & has bad feelings associated with it? Isn't it kind of shitty to expect some famous person who had to watch a family member/friend/loved one waste away from cancer meet some kid who has cancer? What about potential emotional trauma? Bet you didn't think about that, did you?

And why would you want to meet someone who's going to have all those bad memories associated with your condition? That will likely make your meeting horrid. And what if the celebrity is only doing it for publicity? That's not the least bit altruistic to me. That celebrity could also end up with a crazy line of people claiming every kind of terminal illness known to man just to meet him/her. Do you, as the person's rep, want to deal with it? I'm not sure I would.

Personally, I think people should be kind and give things with a pure heart. I certainly don't go around doing things I don't want to or just so I look good. For instance, I'm not doing Monday Night Law solely for CLE or to drum up good PR for my company. I have pure intentions behind it, chiefly having come from the situation myself & having family who could well end up in the same situation as those seeking services. I'd really not want kindness from someone who's just trying to get good PR or could care less about what I'm doing or my condition if I were ill.

At the same time, though, I think the right to say no is important. Do we blame the ex of a suicide victim for breaking up with the person? Do we bash people who refuse to give change to panhandlers using their kids, disabilities, sob stories as an inducement to give? I haven't seen that confrontation on the subway & you'd best believe if someone yelled at me for it, I'd point out that my sister has a young son & I know handicapped people personally who would never go out in public with their hands out + disabilities/kids/other sympathy ploy on display begging for money.

For those of you in the industry, what are your thoughts? Should we beat up on famous people for wanting to live their own lives & get a little rest sometime? Should people be forced to meet kids because of their terminal illnesses? What about meeting healthy kids or even healthy adults? Are they less worthy?

I realize a lot of people believe children are more important than grownups (just ask a radical pro-lifer) but I disagree & hope there are more who feel the same.

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