As you may or may not know, poetical leanings aside, I also moonlight as a special events security guard here in Los Angeles. I usually only do this 1-2 days a week (if that); the rest of my time is spent writing. It gets me out of the house just enough that I’m not officially labeled a shut-in, though. Mostly I work red carpet events like premieres and award shows, and last night, when I was at the Avalon in Hollywood, was no exception.
I was working the red—well, neon green—carpet for the Do Something Awards, VH1’s version of CNN Heroes or the TeenNick Halo Awards. As its website professes, the Do Something Awards honor young “doers” who go out and make their communities better in some tangible way, as well as a small group of celebrities who are known for their various philanthropic efforts. This year’s honorees included Jennifer Hudson, Patrick Dempsey, and LL Cool J, but other celebs like Sophia Bush, Carmen Electra, and Russell Simmons were on hand as well. By all accounts, this is meant to be a night of joy, respect, and celebration for those who help out their fellow wo/man, and one of five nominees wins $100,000 during the live broadcast. Great, right?
For starters, I’m sure many would take issue with the concept of parading around young kids and essentially turning their good works into a pageant, but let’s set that aside for the time being. I also don’t want to make any statement about VH1/Viacom’s charitable efforts in general, because I have very little information regarding their history and habits regarding giving. No, I was struck more by the immediate surroundings of the venue and, understandably, my own presence at the event.
I don’t know the specifics of why each nominee was invited to participate, but I’m sure each of them more than deserve to be praised for their efforts. It seemed strange to me how uncharitable the running of the event was, though, mostly because it was run just like any other awards show. There were hundreds of production personnel flitting about, talent being ushered delicately back and forth from their trailers, and a couple dozen security guards keeping the rest of the world at bay. Think about that: 2 dozen individuals hired for the express purpose of keeping fans, autograph seekers, the homeless, tourists, and general passersby from bothering people who are more important than they are. You can argue that it’s to “keep them from disrupting the proceedings,” but come on, really.
There’s obviously a practicality to all of this, to celebrating charity and putting it on TV, because in one sense it may inspire others to good as well. Generally, though, I’m of the opinion that charity isn’t really charity unless it’s done anonymously, so maybe that is my bigger concern here. I don’t want to undermine the great works being done, but I feel like charity is most charitable when it’s not so vain, when it’s done to be done.