Many peace workers believe that in today’s day and age the only way to bring the topic of peace closer to the people is through selling it right. Adapting to the flashy, sexy market of the media is supposed to draw attention to and then create genuine interest in peace issues. But does that really work on this more profound level?
One strategy that supporters of this idea tend to follow is to have famous spokespersons for their cause. People like Bono from U2 or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are some of the more well-known representatives.
I would like to mention two other celebrities that got involved in promoting peace issues.
One is the German NBA star Dirk Nowitzki who starred in an anti drug commercial. Check it out.
Do you think that young people really listen more to Dirk than to their mother, when both have the same message? How much of a difference does it make that he is a famous basketball player? Decisions and opinions of famous people usually seem to have a big impact on the audience when it comes to consume, but how far does this influence go when morals and deeper values are concerned?
The other example I would like to mention is soap operas or TV series and how they can be a potential spaces for raising controversial issues. For the last season of ER George Clooney came back to give the series a twist. He was even supported by Susan Sarandon, who joined Clooney in an episode that dealt with organ donation. Sarandon played a grandmother, who in the end took the decision to have her grandson’s organs donated.
In many societies and cultures the body of a dead person is something sacred and donating still intact organs is seen as an act of desecration. At the same time the decision to donate in many cases saves lives. To address a topic that is so off-limits and in a way to promote this taboo decision can be very risky, since it might offend a lot of people. However, it generates discussion and makes people think about and maybe even reconsider their point of view.
Critics of this approach say that it is not a very sustainable one. They claim that when people watch TV they switch off their brain, because they perceive the time spent in front of the TV or on the internet as leisure time, time for relaxation and not necessarily for education. So according to these critics the message is not even really considered or evaluated as an incentive for change.
Another big argument that is usually brought up is that of: peace should be of genuine interest to people. Why do we have to hide it behind flashy ads or celebrities? People say peace is too important to have it depend on a good advertisement strategy.
But is that argument enough to dismiss an approach that could be partly successful?
What do you think? Can this way of reaching out really create genuine interest in peace issues and will people act afterwards for positive change?
Please share your point of view and leave some comments.