Being that I am neither metrosexual nor gay, I read Men’s Journal about as often as I get my nails done; ie never. But, apparently in an attempt to get “edgy”, in this month’s issue, there between Ask Dr. Bob and an article on T. Boone Pickens on Page 60 is an Emile Hirsch’s account of traveling to Congo on the protected wings of Oxfam.
Obviously, this is another case of “Celebrity Goes To Africa to Raise Awareness and/or Save African Babies”. I don’t like these cases. They’re a flash in the pan and then they’re gone. People forget about what whomever it was, was talking about when they did that thing that was… you know, somewhere over there.
But to just blindly say that Hirsch is an ass would be arrogant and childish. In his account, he is very honest about what he saw, what he knew going in, and what he got coming out. He was only there for five days, but he saw a lot. Of course, given such a short amount of time and such vast ground that he was covering around the Kivus, one could say that it was all pointless. But, what good does that do? Sure, it doesn’t really help anyone and I don’t really support celebrities doing this, but on some level he is trying do something, although like Ben Afflecks out there, the energy is largely misdirected. For better or worse, I can say that I’ve read the whole article and here are a few of the things that stuck out.
And I’m reading these pages and thinking about the $600 in 20s and 50s I was told to carry for “security reasons”…
Someone really told him wrong on this front. First of all, it’s a cash economy and one that runs on external cash (dollars or euros) at that. Your day to day needs are going to have to be met solely with the cash that you bring in. $600 would probably be more than enough to cover his five days there given that his stay was taken care of by Oxfam. But the “security reasons” part was laughable. First, there was no way anything was going to happen to Hirsch and secondly, if it did, $600 was going to do little to make things better.
As we wait on the runway, Lyndsay points to a demolished plane nearby. Two months ago it crashed as it tried to take off, catching fire and killing 21 people. Gulp.
Why “gulp”? That was a pathetic sub-contractor airline of the slightly less, yet still completely, abysmal Hewa Bora airline. Again, there was no way Oxfam was going to toss Hirsch on anything close to resembling a Hewa Bora flight. Also, that flight crashed in the market nearby (which was the reason for all the ground casualties.) Maybe that was another plane they were referring to as it would seem it wouldn’t be where the girl thought it was?
I can’t believe it, but he’s wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt.
Apparently no one filled him on on the whole t-shirt thing in Africa. Might have been a nice thing for him to know as he could have brought extra clothes to give someone to sell at the local market.
For a boy such as Prince, the support from NGO’s represent a chance to take his destiny into his own hands. And for a rape victim such as Kimanizani, donations to Oxfam go toward her medical costs and food and give her a chance to rejoin the world.
I was sorta okay with Hirsch’s whole account up to this point. This chunk makes me cringe as it feels like it was written by the marketing people at Oxfam. It cheapens the whole account by him as it makes it suddenly one big sales pitch for throwing more money in to the NGO’s that in all truth really aren’t making much progress. They’re just bandaid solutions to the much bigger issue that the government of Congo and all those in MONUC actually need to actively work for change, which they aren’t. Throwing money at Oxfam is not the answer, although I’m sure that readers of this article will see it that way.
The real solution is to educate yourself and not listen to some actor who is being used as a pawn. If you actually know what is going on in Africa (and know much more than Hirsch, whose soundbite history lesson left out France’s involvement in the start of the Rwandan Genocide as well as other crucial facts) you are going to understand a lot better what needs to be done. Informed people can actually do something. Otherwise you’re just a very obedient sheep foolishly giving your wool to an all too eager recipient who just waits for your next wool to grow in.