Leveraging Celebrity

Danny Thomas
Image via Wikipedia

Tomorrow is our nation’s birthday. Happy 4th of July to one and all.

With what is happening today, it’s a wonder we’ve lasted as long as we have. I think one of the reasons we seem to keep overcoming depressions, recessions, housing bubbles, credit crisis, etc is because we are naturally givers. We the people always are willing to help those who have been stricken with problems.

I will mention only one problem solver in this post out of the myriad of candidates. The fellow was the son of Lebanese immigrants who made it big in Hollywood and whose family name still has credibility.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

I don’t know how much myth is involved with the Thomas family. Everyone has heard of Danny and his daughter Marlo. Danny is no longer with us but his daughter Marlo is alive and well. This post isn’t as much about her as it is him.

His movie and TV credits are well known but I’d bet most of us couldn’t name one film or TV show in which he starred. But, on the other hand, I’d bet we could all mention his creation – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital located in Memphis, TN. It opened in 1962 and had such personalities as Frank Sinatra, Milton Berle, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley as supporters/endorsers.

Not many of us know Thomas founded the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities to raise the money to build, operate and maintain the hospital. How about that for a surprise in today’s environment?

Four Pillars

Thomas founded the hospital on four pillars that still stand today. It was to provide unsurpassed patient care. It was to provide unparalleled scientific research. It would be a hospital without walls taking in children from all over the world and never deny care because of race, religion or ability to pay.

Doesn’t this sound like the basis for today’s equal opportunity mantra? Just agree because it does.

One of their accomplishments include raising the survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent to more than 70 percent. Read that again, it is that impressive.

Mind you, through all of the adversity the hospital still stands committed to the four pillars.

Stretch Our Imagination

Danny Thomas certainly wasn’t the only celebrity to charge down charity lane and he won’t be the last. However, how many celebrities can you name today who are this committed to a cause?

Given tomorrow is a big day, why not use part of it to stretch our imagination and wonder out loud in letters to the editor, community blogs, phone calls to talk shows, etc. to encourage celebrities to imitate Danny Thomas. In these days of multi-million dollar draft picks, big dollar sport contract re-negotiations, record high CD sales and the like, why can’t we start the leverage the celebrity movement.

Celebrities enjoy a status second to none so it would be easy to leverage their celebrity in the face of any problem we have. Most of today’s youth are already hooked on celebrity. They would be the worker bees that keep the movement rolling.

I don’t say any of this tongue and cheek because we are in real serious dookey. I’ll use GM as a proving point. Who owned GM?

If you believed in what our system of economics told you, it was the stockholders. The stockholders were the actual owners because that is how ownership was created by corporations. In fact, the government made corporations follow a certain blueprint through laws and tax codes or they didn’t qualify as a corporation.

As I write this, the stockholders no longer exist. The government has taken their place. It doesn’t make any difference how this happened, because it did.

But what if we had celebrities leading the opposition to the governmental takeover? What if these celebrities stood foursquare with the stock and bond holders?
I bet the new owner wouldn’t be the new owner.

Leveraging Celebrity

Let me repeat myself and say we as a people can solve any problem or crisis as it hits us with the right kind of leadership. This of course begs the question will celebrities be the right kind of leadership?

The answer is a resounding yes if we tie their performance to their celebrity status. Fail and they lose celebrity status. Succeed and they keep celebrity status.

We know celebrity can be leveraged. I wonder if we are willing to do it? Happy 4th of July…

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1 Comment

  1. Tim Brandel on

    I totally agree with Joshua. Like it or not famous people wield power and influence in our society greater than ever before, due to the speed of which information travels. We can be enamored with our favorite stars to the point of worship, hanging on to every word as inspiration, wisdom and direction.

    There is a quote that was used in the first Spiderman movie with Toby MacGuire: ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. An example of which is Oprah Winfrey, She as surpassed 1M+ followers on Twitter with less than 50 updates or ‘tweets’, in under a couple of months. For the average ‘Joe’ to have that kind of following we would have to be giving away large sums of money daily.

    Now is the time for our celebrities to speak up on the issues effecting us here as well as abroad to effect change. Oprah does a good job of this BTW, so I am not flaming her.

    I would personally like to see the following addressed if any celebrities are listening:
    Foreclosure crisis – it’s impact is deep in Phx.
    The middle class squeeze – cost of living outpacing salaries.
    Disproportionate jailing of African-Americans and hispanics.
    Racially and gendered biased laws and court systems.
    Lack of education,jobs and resources to low income areas.

    My rant is done now.

    @tBrandel (on twitter)

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