Celebrities have power. (This should be no surprise to you.) They get ushered to the front of lines at clubs and in Disney World, they make more money filming one movie for a few months than I will ever see in my lifetime, and they have “people” — people that cook for them and clean for them and even drive them around. Sometimes, it’s shocking what money and a recognizable name gets these people.
But amidst all the glitz and glamour, there are the occasional celebrities out there who use their power and presence for good. While news of Oprah’s charity or Angelina Jolie’s support of cause X and Y on any given day is abundant, there is a rising trend of Tinsel Town’s finest testifying in hearings before Congress on behalf of their pet causes.
Sheryl Crow was the most recent to do so when, in late May, she spoke before the congressional subcommittee on health about the need to pass the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act. The act would provide $200 million towards researching the environmental factors contributing to breast cancer.
This wasn’t a new arena for Crow, though. Last year, she spoke at a press conference about the same bill that was highly attended by many members of congress (including Hillary Clinton). In her most recent trip to Washington, D.C., the breast cancer survivor had this to say: “I don’t live in a political world, and while this might seem like a political discussion, until you are [one of] the one in seven women diagnosed with breast cancer, you will never know how not political this is.” You tell ‘em, sister!
Among others, actresses such as Julia Roberts (Rett Syndrome), Kerry Washington (National Endowment of the Arts) and Mary Tyler Moore (stem cell research) have spoken up (and out) in front of the suited men and women that run this country.
Some people aren’t too fond of blending the line between Hollywood and Washington, but I love it. Sure, ex-Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson is not — I can only assume — the world’s most qualified expert on mountaintop removal mining, but his presence in the court room on that day in 2002 brought along cameras, microphones and an audience that would have remained largely ignorant on the issues had he been absent.
These celebrities are not naïve. They understand what clout they do and do not carry in varying arenas around the country. Did Ms. Crow’s testimony change the minds of any congress(wo)men in opposition to this legislation? Probably not — but, the news of her appearance does bring the idea of cancer research funding into the forefront of many Americans’ mind. And, perhaps I am being too idealistic here, but if Senators and Representatives truly make their decisions based upon the will of the people they represent, then couldn’t added pressure from constituents ultimately result in the outcome Crow wanted to begin with?
Ah, I think I am getting ahead of myself. I just want to go back to looking at pretty pictures.