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Macy Gray actually helps Katrina victims

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Any sensible person should be skeptical of celebrity do-gooders. It’s good to help out victims of a natural disaster, but Celine Dion’s on Larry King carrying on about the million dollars she’s giving or whatever the hell exactly she’s doing. That’s not right. Screw her. And then there’s Spicoli. Oy vey, the self-aggrandizement.

Some have criticized evil right wingers for hatin’ on people who are just trying to help out. However, if you go on television to brag about the huge sums you’re giving to the cause, then you don’t get credit for helping out. You’re just buying advertisement for your good name. And if you show up to do volunteer rescues with a personal photographer in tow, you’re simply a frickin’ media whore.

If a celebrity really was motivated by the desire to simply help out, they’d probably come out somewhat closer to acting like Macy Gray. From the Houston Chronicle:

Grammy award winner Macy Gray was there Saturday, her hair contained in a pink wrap and her eyes hidden behind huge, designer sunglasses.

She was up Friday night watching the news and decided that she needed to do something, so she took the red eye from Los Angeles and got to Houston at 5 o’clock Saturday morning.

She could have given money, she said, but this is a much more personal gift.

Gray strapped on a Red Cross vest and got to work at the the distribution center, where evacuees give volunteers a wish list of sorts and volunteers sift through donations to try to fill it.

There’s a picture to go with this, but it’s not sexy. She didn’t show up with a personal photographer, nor did she show up on some talk show to raise awareness of how much money she’s given.

She’s got her hair tied back, and she’s shuffling through boxes of donated clothing trying to find a change of clothes for a ten year old refugee from the storms.

This looks to me much more than most clebrity help-out stuff like someone actually interested primarily in alleviating the suffering of others rather than any kind of cheap glory or glamour.

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  • Heinz Hornsby

    Don’t know where Al Barger gets the idea that Celine Dion bragged about donating $ 1 million….since she expressed quite the contrary in the interview on Larry King. If you put aside “opening TVs and flying helicopsters” ,she was clear that the sum was not just donated by herself but together with Concerts West and AEG and that the money may be useful in 3 months time but not right now and that she was not willing to talk about money and successfully managed to get the point across despite Larry King’s clear attempt to steer the conversation into another direction. So no self glorification whatsoever.

    Cool Sean Penn, cool Macy Gray for heading out there and doing hands on work…and cool Celine Dion for having the guts to express her view in light of inevitable criticism due to the way people perceive her as an artist and the difficulty she still seems to have with the english language.

    For that matter: cool anyone else who does ANYthing helpful.

  • What Al? Are you trying to say I shouldn’t pay any attention to Sean “Gillian” Penn? (or is it the “Skipper?”) I’m crushed!!

    Come on Al I heard his interview on Greta, he actually said he spent 9 hours “on the water”. and… and actually “saw about 40 people” that needed rescuing.

    There was no actual rescuing being done mind you, he just was observing – with his personal photographer.

    Now a comment along the lines of Macy Grey.

    Anyone see Al Gore rushing through the Baton Rough airport a couple days ago.
    No photo ops, no personal photog and didn’t stop to give head to any microphones.

    He was there to see what he and his supperters could do to help and went about his business without seeking the added attention.

    Now excuse me while I go retch after praising the “invertor of the internet.”

  • They still have flights down there for anyone else who is interested. Lives in danger right now, people needing a way out of flood zone, displaced people needing assistance, and some whose contribution is just to critique the helpers.

    If this was ever appropriate, it is not now.

  • Alan

    What kind of journalism is this Al? You don’t seem to know what you are talking about. Celine Dion didn’t brag about that money she donated!! She actually said it was not enough and that right now it’s water, blood, etc. that people need. And what ARE you doing to help other than criticize someone who has the guts to say what millions are thinking but afraid to say it? No matter what people think about Celine Dion, she is one of the few artists who is always there to help and donate money! After the 9/11, who left her recently born son to travel to NY City and sing? She does tons in various countries to help people but obviously it seems that some of the people who don’t like her music still complain when she contributes in any way to such a horrific disaster. Way to go Celine! I am really proud of what you said on CNN, regardless of the criticism of a few negative people! As for you Al, better get the facts right and go out there and help instead of bitching!

  • If you want to help in person at this point you’re better off either going to a food bank or shelter in a nearby city and volunteering there, or waiting and volunteering to help with habitat for humanity or other reconstruction groups. Right now almost everyone has been evacuated, and if you go into the city now like Sean Penn did you’re just as likely to become a problem for emergency workers as you are to be a help.


  • Thugs Ma

    “She could have given money, she said, but this is a much more personal gift.”

    I love ya Al, but screw the “personal gift” and show me the money.

    I suppose she could be like Bob Hope performing for the troops — if so put on a free concert. Absorb the costs and give the people some relief. Then I say, good for you.

    But to fly your jet to Texas — using precious fuel — seems kinda silly. Maybe she should donate what it would cost her to fly to Texas, stay in the city, and hand out toilet paper.

    The point is not what you’re doing to make your-celebrity-self feel better — but what can you do that will make the biggest difference.

    For a rich celeb, the answer is to give money.

    Maybe she could open up her home for a few evacuees.

    I understand feeling helpless and wanting to make a difference. But anyone can hand out Red Cross parcels. If she ponied up a thousand bucks, I’d say good for her.

    In the Bible, there’s the story of the old woman who gave her two coppers to some charity. It was all she had.

    Macy going to Texas just doesn’t impress me much, although she did have the good sense to not take a photog. She already knew plenty would be there snapping her pic.

  • I suppose there’s some point of criticism that I didn’t watch Celine Dion on Larry King to know exactly what she said. The basic point of criticism there is simply that she was on Larry King talking about Katrina AT ALL. If she wanted to actually help rather than pose, she wouldn’t be wasting her time on a television show in the first damned place. How’s that helping a flood victim?

    And HELL NO, I’m not giving out credit to any idiot celebrity who claims to be helping out. Claims of altruism do not constitute a frickin’ magic wand exempting you from criticism. Claims of good intention pasted over cheap self-aggrandizement merit not just no positive credit, but active derision.

    However, the point in this column is that I’m looking to actually praise someone for actually trying to help, like Macy. If he’s doing something quietly without cameras, I’ll even give the dreaded Al Gore credit. Good on him.

  • smb

    its nice to see a former coke fiend repenting her formal lifestyle. way to go macy gray! maybe this will help you sell a few albums too!!

  • Thugs Ma

    Celine Dion — as much as she makes me shudder — and other celebrities are good for creating awareness and encouraging people to donate. It’s a “if you love Celine, you’ll give money” kind of thing.

    Hey, I’m just trying to give her some credit.

    When I was 13, I remember giving money to Jerry’s Kids because Frank Sinatra asked “me” to when he performed on the telethon. You know me, I’d do anything to make Frank happy.

    But as a grown up, I don’t need celebrities to encourage me to do anything. In fact, it usually pisses me off.

    If rich people want to give, then they should pony up the cash, and leave the grunt work to the grunts.

    Macy and the rest would be way better off scheduling a big concert and contributing all the proceeds to evacuees.

    Or doing free ads for World Vision or the Red Cross. Something to get people to contribute. If they want to help, then they should give themselves away in the way that will have the biggest impact.

    They should do what they can within their area of expertise.

    Anything else just smacks of silliness to me. But I could just be grumpy today.

  • SMB, I’d be all in favor of Macy selling a lot more albums, but not because of this. This ain’t a selling albums kind of act.

  • steve

    macy needs to support her nose candy habit. she needs to have a platinum record and go on tour again. what better way to do a little self promotion than to help Katrina victims! maybe she can team up with sean penn

  • Alan

    Al isn’t happy that Celine appeared on TV to talk about Katrina? Am I dreaming? Did you actually think this through before writing it? If Celine got a phone call from CNN to help raise funds, she should turn it down or what? And what would you have said then? That she is a terrible person making lots of money and she didn’t want to help!! I’m sure it would be something along those lines. Just accept that fact that Celine is a celebrity and advertisers use her to sell and fundraisers go to her to volunteer for such disaster. Just like she has been doing for over 15 years with cystic fibrosis. She donates and increases awareness about causes. And no, she doesn’t need the publicity as she has already sold enough albums in her life (best selling international female artist with over 175 million albums so far…) But Macey does need the push.
    Al, I hope you will one day accept that a pop singer can actually help with one appearance on CNN while you will need decades on this website to carry such power. Sorry but maybe you should sing “The Prayer” as Celine did so well the other night… Cheers!