Published June 01, 2010
LOS ANGELES – Pamela Anderson says she’s doing what she can to combat the catastrophic oil spill that continues to pollute the Gulf of Mexico and threaten America's southern shores. But is she one of the few stars stepping up to play a role in the clean-up?
“It’s terrible, it’s awful. It feels like it is the end of the world to me,” the actress/animal rights activist told Pop Tarts at last week’s Big Bluff Online Trivia Game launch. “I’m working with international bird rescue, they’re expecting (it to get a lot worse) which is unbelievable. It’s the worst thing that could happen, and we won’t know what the effects are until later.”
And as thousands of gallons of oil continue to spill every day, it seems the majority of Hollywood, a community often given to preaching on "green" issues, is staying away. Granted, there were some celebrities like Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon who took to Twitter to express their thoughts on the issue, but unlike the tragedy in Haiti in January, there hasn’t been an outpouring of donations, large-scale fund-raisers, contribution-driven websites and hotlines, or PSAs encouraging Americans to do all they can to help out.
“Hollywood stars have a romance with saving foreign countries, they see America as this rich and powerful country that should fix problems on its own,” said media expert Michael Levine. “Celebrities feel heroic in saving people from other places. Patriotism isn’t of interest, sometimes Hollywood forgets that America needs care and consideration too.”
Hollywood’s heavyweights are certainly not afraid to dig very deep into their pockets in times of global disaster. It was well-documented in the press that celebrities including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock and Madonna collectively donated millions to the earthquake relief. Actor George Clooney used his star status to raise over $57 million in his “Hope For Haiti” telethon. Queen Latifah, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Pharrell Williams hosted another telethon in conjunction with BET, and Sean Penn even hightailed it to the poverty-stricken country to personally lend his hand with refugee efforts.
But according to other entertainment industry experts, it’s not a case of celebrities only wanting to help out foreign countries: it’s a case of this being a man-made disaster as opposed to a natural one.
“It's politically safer when its victims on one side and a catastrophic event on the other. In that case, there is only one side to be on. Man-made catastrophes are not as clear-cut. This one is filled with politically loaded issues of off-shore oil drilling, dependence on foreign oil and the environment,” explained Glenn Selig, founder of The Publicity Agency. “Plus BP employees died. You don't want to make those victims part of an 'evil' oil company that created the mess. It's complicated, which makes it a very tough issue to rally around.”
Media expert Dana Livingston Ward echoed Selig's sentiments.
“We're all referring to this environmental mishap as ‘the BP oil spill,’ which automatically places blame on BP, therefore no one - Hollywood included - feels the need to pay for a problem caused by someone else,” said Ward. “In the end, the Gulf oil spill is an issue that does indeed affect our people, so celebs and the rest of Americans should be just as quick to help create a solution for this latest disaster... even if it's simply speaking up to raise awareness and thus force the guilty party to remedy the situation in more timely manner.”
Still, there are some stars that aren’t afraid to bypass the politics to do what they can for the sake of the environment and those affected.
“Waterworld” star Kevin Costner, who 15 years ago began funding the work of Louisiana-based firm Ocean Therapy solutions, has offered up his multi-million dollar machines which function like a vacuum to separate water and oil, purifying both in the process. Director James Cameron has loaned the submersibles used to shoot “Titanic” to the crews trying to stop the underwater geyser, and Robert Redford appeared in a commercial encouraging Americans to “Call For Clean Energy Now.”
In addition Lenny Kravitz, John Legend, and Mos Def recently performed at a benefit for the Gulf Relief Foundation in New Orleans to raise funds for fisherman affected by the disaster, and 90’s pop sensation Sophie B. Hawkins is donating 100 percent of the net proceeds from her new song “The Land, the Sea & the Sky” to the Waterkeeper Alliance’s clean-up efforts in the region.
But despite her concern over the wildlife affected by the spill, Anderson has faith that President Obama, despite the harsh criticism he has been under for not doing enough.
“I (totally blame) the oil people. They made a big mistake of not having a back-up plan,” Anderson added. “I would definitely like to see Obama do more, but I also want to support him and what he stands for. I think he’s a good president and he’s very compassionate, and we have to just trust that he knows best.”
Additional reporting by Deidre Behar