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In 2010, when Haiti suffered a catastrophic earthquake, Hollywood was quickly on the scene. Sean Penn, Ben Stiller, Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, and Scarlett Johansson were just some of the celebrities attending multi-million-dollar fundraisers, visiting survivors, and speaking out to garner more support for aid organizations. They ensured that America’s eyes turned to the plight of a neighbor we typically ignore. But did they—do they—really do any good? Time and again, say critics, the flood of organizations operating without oversight in Haiti—an astonishing 10,000 NGOs—have had an impact that’s as harmful as it is helpful. Food aid has hurt Haiti’s farm economy. Medical aid has damaged the country’s healthcare infrastructure. And one celebrity-run charity—Wyclef Jean’s Yéle—has been accused of misspending millions of donation dollars. Is the road to Haiti’s suffering paved with Hollywood’s good intentions? As the Fowler Museum at UCLA launches the show In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st‐Century Haitian Art, Giving Back Fund President and Founder Marc Pollick, Generosity Water Founder and CEO Jordan Wagner, and UC Santa Barbara Black Studies Scholar Claudine Michel visit Zócalo to discuss how the fortunes raining down from Hollywood really affect—and could best help—Haitians on the ground.
Art by Frantz Zephirin
The Immortal Dream of Michael Jackson for the Third World, 2010
Collection of Galerie Monnin; Photograph by Marc Lee Steed