Charity: Do you know where your money is going?

Giving money to charity, that’s a good thing, right? It means you aren’t selfish, you care about others and you want to stop animals going extinct, children being killed and cancer. Are you actually helping though? Or are you just lining a very rich CEOs pocket?

As most of you will have seen, a campaign called Kony 2012 that has spread like wildfire across the internet today. Naturally, that campaign has come under fire itself (surprise, surprise). A website that “rates” and tracks charities (to see how good or bad they are) lists the amount of money that goes to the CEOS of Invisible Children. Now as you can see they pay themselves almost $90,000 a year. That’s a lot but I’ve seen worse. CEOs of charities have been known to pay themselves MUCH more than that. Here is a list from The Guardian, showing just how much very well-known charities pay themselves. See the Cancer Research UK one? Shocking, right? Now I’ll admit that list is a bit dated but it proves that a lot of your money is going to the wrong people.

Something else that was pointed out in the news and on the radio a few months ago was that charities that use people in the street to get you to sign up to give money to charity very rarely cover their costs – let alone actually help the charity they’re supporting! It’s a sad situation, what do we do if we want to save children in Africa but don’t want to pay some rich guy to just simple write letters?

There’s always something you can do. Raise awareness. Ring your government to say: “Hey, this is wrong”, like so many people did when SOPA was going around. If you fight for your internet, fight for people to survive too. Sign petitions – some people say they’re not effective but they show how many people care! It’s important to stand up for what you believe in, but that doesn’t mean giving your money away. Look at the women who fought for their rights – they didn’t ask for peoples money to fund “fund-raisers” they went out in the streets and said “This is wrong, we want change”, they fought for it with their lives. If you something to change that strongly, it is possible, you just need to fight hard enough for it.

Now back to the Kony campaign, it’s not the best charity in the world, after all it’s like when the US went after Gaddafi and Saddam. Yes they were both terrible dictators but was the situation solved in the right way? That’s an argument we could have all night. On one hand, they were people that needed to be brought to justice, but they were  in hiding at the time they were captured/killed. They weren’t doing evil any more, which is apparently the same situation as Kony. He’s in hiding because he knows people are after him but does that mean we should just leave him? I don’t believe so. If we leave him he could come back and continue what he was doing. Even so, sending in part of an army might not be the best solution and I don’t think any one knows a better solution. From what I can gather, the US are working with the Ugandan army to help bring him to justice so it’s not like the US are just marching in and doing what they want like with Hussein. However, any one who’s read anything about Uganda knows their army is a rather evil army within itself. Unfortunately, with the troubles in Uganda, it’s not the best country to support. Their entire government needs changing too, not just the evil people like Kony. Uganda is full of Kony’s I am sure.

Even so, raising awareness of Kony AND charities such as Invisible Children is a good thing. Why? Because it reminds us that 1) the world is full of evil people that need to be stopped 2) charities are not always good, nor do they always support the best causes. Both of these things need to be exposed, the good, the bad and the ugly truth we may not want to know. If you want to save the world – go to Africa yourself, help build schools and provide clean water. Or, if you can’t, give to small charities, not big corporations. It’s almost impossible for them to prove where your money is going but most of the time you’d be better off giving your money to a man living on the streets of London and even he may be a con-man.


Do the Oscars prove Hollywood is mis-representing us all?


I stumbled upon a very interesting video that talks about something called The Bechdel Test. The test goes like this: There has to be two female character in the film (with names) who talk to each other about something other than men. If the film fulfils these requirements it passes. Pretty simple and easy. I mean, most Hollywood films must pass this test with ease right? Wrong. It’s actually quite shocking to see how very little films represent women appropriately.

But this theory doesn’t only apply to women, the same can be said about gay people and other races. In fact the only people Hollywood don’t mis-represent are white men. For example, how many films are there featuring gay people where the film doesn’t just revolve around their sexuality or gender? And  in films where there are people of differing races, they’re often talking about white people. The best example of this racial issue is in The Help. The Help is about two black maids who look after a white family. Even though there are several black people in the cast, it only just passes the test because the characters are almost always talking to or about, a white person. Making the film less about the plight of black people and more about white people “solving” racism.

Now we all like to think that today’s society is far more equal than it used to be and we’re accepting of different genders, races and sexualities and yes, having films incorporating these things are good but it doesn’t mean the problem is solved. Out of nine of the Oscar nominated films talked about the video I mentioned before, only two of them pass The Bechdel Test. Two! Now, tell me if I’m wrong but last time I checked there are just as many women on the planet as there are men. So why is it so hard to have just two female characters who talk to each other about something other than men?


Now just because a film revolves around men doesn’t make it a bad film. We’re not talking about the quality of films here and sometimes it’s necessary to have an almost all male cast and that’s fine. What the problem is is not portraying women enough in the right light. There are plenty of female-centred films but a lot of them portray women in a stereotypical way; Sucker Punch, Sex in the City and any other chick-flick film you can think of are good examples. There are quite a few LGBT films too but many of them only centre around being gay, again, there’s nothing wrong with that but would it kill to have more gay characters in every-day films? For example, Scott Pilgrim VS the world does a great job of having a gay character and not making a big deal out of it. It’s represented as being normal which is the way it should be shown. And of course the same could be said about representing other races, we need to do it more and make it less about white people patting themselves on the back.

The problem is though, Hollywood is still male dominated as almost every other big industry is. If there wasn’t an award for best actress, would women ever win best actor? Probably not. (That’s another gripe of mine too, I never called female actors actresses, that insinuates it’s a lesser role than actor). Hollywood needs to wake up and realise what audiences they’re catering too these days, they may not care but we need to show we care, otherwise things may never change.