The Japan earthquake and tsunami’s news and videos shook all of us. I still cannot understand where do the Japanese people take all that courage to face this apocalyptic situation; I really admire them for looking at all this and… don’t give up. I think we all had this feeling looking at them endlessely trying to find their relatives walking through the gigantic fields of wood, steel and concrete in piles, where there previously was a village, made of pretty houses and beautiful streets.
The empathy with the strong and proud men and women is certainly one of the reasons that explains partly the worldwide generosity towards the japanese victims. I always see positively international solidarity, that remains among the last things where one can watch its neighbour concerned about some natural disaster and say: “thank you for allowing me, sometimes, to keep faith in human beings.”. But this time, I cannot help to be somewhat irritated by something going wrong. It all started with reading something about Lady Gaga selling on her websites bracelets for Japan; then Sandra Bullock offered 1 million dollars while the Black Eyed Peas try to promote the cause. Britney Spears, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry will issue shortly a song. Why do these artists need to show themselves that much when they aren’t doing anything else than what others are doing? When a star earning millions of dollars gives half a million or so, it is not more remarkable than when a student who earns only a few hundreds send 30 dollars to the victims. So why do they need that their donations are given publicity in the media?
Let’s face the ugly truth: these artists know that the Japanese are good customers for their songs, movies, concerts, CDs, DVDs, etc. Given the high purchasing power in Japan and the high sum per inhabitant they dedicate to purchasing cultural goods, the marketing of international artists has always been careful to never forget to target the Land of the Rising Sun. A natural disaster affecting the Japanese economy equals to a decrease in the income of the Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears and others. So how to remedy the situation? Easy! By increasing their visbility and popularity in Japan, as well as in other parts of the wrld: for the Japanese, these donations confort them in the feeling those artists care about them, and for American, Europeans and others, itt gives them a positive image.
If it was business, we would call this a win-win situation, but since it’s not business but charity isn’t this but an unclean way to take advantage of a the suffering of hundreds of thousands of victims just to boost their approval ratings? One might object that I am judging them on mere intent… do I? I had the feeling for example that I haven’t seen that much compassion from the entertainment industry during the terrific floods in Pakistan in 2010. The number of victims were much greater (21 millions people directly affected). Pakistan as an emergent country couldn’t offer the technicalities and help the japanese government is able to help its citizen with. In almost one week, the Japanese disaster cause gathered almost as much donation than the Pakistani disaster in more than 6 months. It is not a matter here to compare between the two catastrophes, but just to face the truth: Japan is a trendy cause, Pakistan was not. Lady Gaga & friends try to increase their popularity among their most lucrative fans; states and companies want to save the business; and people… well I don’t know exactly what is their feeling about all this, why they don’t feel a Pakistani man, woman or child deserves help the same way a Japanese man, woman or child. As human beings, we all have to make our share for Japan, the same way they would do for us if we lived something that much tragic (or even if they wouldn’t), but as human beings we should also try to “train” ourselves to not treat differently the suffering, the pain, the anguish of the different victims. When confronted to disasters like this, my dream would be that the world stops to see the Japanese as no more than consumers to attract (for their money and not for the sincere concern about all the suffering they are currently going through), and the Pakistani like no more than “under human beings” that don’t deserve any compassion.