Sunday, January 10, 2010

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness day. And I wanted to write something important today, about a day so important. A banner to make a charge under. But all I keep thinking about is Lindsay Lohan.

That this cause has reached this level of awareness should give me a renewed sense of optimism and resolve but I find myself with somewhat mixed emotions. As more and more public figures become spokespersons for any cause there runs the risk of both overexposure, with its subsequent emotional fatigue among the public, and the perpetual association of those spokespersons with that a cause.

We can all agree celebrity sells. And, as in the case recently with Tiger Wood’s and his serial philandering, celebrity can also cost sponsors 12 billion dollars in lost revenue and leave a bad taste in shareholder and consumer mouths for months or perhaps even years to come. I’m not picking on Mr. Woods here. He is the greatest golfer of all time. I am merely making a point. That sometimes, image is everything.

There have been a number of high profile musicians and actors that have joined the fight against human trafficking in recent months. Ashley Judd, Lucy Liu and Lisa Ling will be on Larry King Live tonight talking about human trafficking. I know enough of these women to know that they are all talented, articulate individuals and I feel fairly certain that they will afford this issue the decorum and sincere passion it deserves. That being said, Lindsey Lohan is being featured in a forthcoming documentary by the BBC on human trafficking Called Lindsay Lohan in India. She is a popular actress who has a decent box office pull but is she the best voice for this cause? The critics are already ravaging this for it's 'colonialism' and 'whites know best' underpinnings, let alone what they are saying about Lohan herself. Does this cause really need this type of press?

I’m not disparaging Ms. Lohan, nor do I doubt her sincerity. In fact I applaud her willingness to get involved. I just find it does not add much gravity or credibility to cries of outrage when they are voiced through a Hollywood neophyte. Lohan’s personal life has been tabloid fodder for years. Her addiction, her felony drug possession charges, and her very public romances have somewhat soiled her image and given her, in spite of what might be to the contrary, a fairly portentous “cultural footprint”. She may be the sweetest, most genuine young lady on the planet but she hasn’t, at least publicly, displayed much dignity and restraint. There is no understating the critical urgency of stopping human trafficking. Nor has there ever been a better time to fight it then right now. But let us please cry out with voices clear as a bell. Great spokeman have galvanized many a nation around a cause. And bad ones…Here is part of the video.

Again, many thanks to Ms. Lohan and the other high profile voices that are standing up and speaking out against human trafficking. And maybe I am missing the point. Maybe the BBC sees this as an opportunity to engage a younger demographic about these issues. Maybe. But after National Human Trafficking day is gone, what are you gonna do the rest of the year? When the honest truth is your money can do a lot more than your mouth. When poverty is the single biggest engine of the human trafficking epidemic.


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