The Humanitarian Work Of Angelina Jolie

3135 words - 13 pages

When most people talk about celebrities it is usually related to their latest fashion statement, the new movies they are starring in, or the new song they released. However, what is becoming increasingly more popular for celebrities to be associated with is humanitarian and development work. Through their use of songs, documentaries, and publicized field missions, the celebrities that partake in humanitarian work utilize their fame to attract people to support certain relief efforts and organizations. A movement first started by Jackie Coogan in the 1920s (Babkenian, 2011), celebrity humanitarianism is becoming increasingly more popular with names such as Bono, Oprah Winfrey, and Angelina Jolie serving as modern day examples of celebrities who are involved with humanitarian works. Of these “humanitarian celebrity’s,” Angelina Jolie, who is heavily involved in humanitarian work around the globe, has a great amount of criticism and praise for her work. Along side Brad Pitt, she has seen increasing popularity due to her work in the field of development, and is noted for being one of the most active celebrities in regards to humanitarian and development work, especially in the field of the refugee crisis around the world.

I would like to clarify that celebrity humanitarianism is a term that is coined for celebrities being involved in development work and the two are relatively interchangeable. Through this essay I will cover the history of Angelina Jolie’s involvement in development work, the pros and cons of her development work, and finally, provide my own personal opinion of the topic of her development work. My thesis is that, although there are some positive aspects of Jolie’s work mainly found within her humanitarian efforts regarding refugees and displaced individuals, overall her work is not beneficial because of her underlying self-promotion and creation of a “brand image”, the economic benefits she gains from her humanitarian work, and the ways in which she has utilized the “good deeds” that she has done to benefit her professional career. My personal opinion of Jolie’s work is that there are positive aspects to her involvement in development work, but there are so many underlying issues that it makes it impossible to view her work as positive to development.

Jolie was not always the person she is today and has overcome much controversy in her career to get where she is presently. Once married to Billy Bob Thornton, Jolie was known for being psychotic, abusing hard drugs and alcohol, and having infidelity in her relationships (Ramsdale, 2013). Her largely scrutinized life style slowly began to fade away into the past as her interest in humanitarian work piqued after working on set in Cambodia in the year 2000 for her hit movie, “Tomb Raider” (, 2013a). Soon after seeing the refugee crisis that is prevalent in Cambodia, Jolie began travelling across the country with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees...

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