The Celebrity‐led Benefit Event as Information Platform, Fundraiser and/or Entertainment
This paper argues that contextualizing the celebrity-led benefit event in relation to local cultural norms is of pivotal importance to understanding the rationales behind its execution and its potential impact in terms of local understandings and acts of humanitarianism. The paper is based on the analysis of two Danish benefit events: The annual national telethon and media event Danmarks Indsamling (Denmark’s Fundraiser), and the annual small-scale music concert Hammershus Fairtrade Concert. The campaigns are different in scope and location, but share important common global and local features. By focusing on a peripheral case set outside the classical Anglo-American context we aim to illustrate how the two benefit events seek to promote development aid and fair trade by drawing on a combination of international trends and local sets of cultural norms. The Danish case, we posit, can thereby shed light on the interplay between local and global contexts, and thus inform studies of mainstream Anglo-American celebrity activism with regard to potential localized particularities. Our findings indicate that the overall format of the Danish events is shaped by a global tendency towards a de-politicization of development aid and the function of celebrities in this dynamic, but that the staging of the events nevertheless is executed in line with local Danish cultural norms by being inclusive and folkelig (for and of the people), often through an ostensibly politically incorrect, unassuming and underplayed, irony. We conclude with a discussion of the potential repercussions of this format for the tension between apolitical neoliberal commodification and committed collective activism.
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International Studies Association Annual Convention, 2014