Hollywood stars draw spotlight, and criticism, with Ukraine visits

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has relied on a gradual stream of visiting Hollywood stars to maintain the world’s concentrate on his nation’s conflict with Russia, now practically six months in. But some critics are questioning whether or not celebrities ought to have a starring function in a lethal battle.

Jessica Chastain grew to become the newest leisure trade determine to purpose the highlight on Ukraine. In pictures posted this week on Zelensky’s official Telegram account, Chastain is seen sitting at a desk in a gathering with Ukraine’s president, and giving a slight grin as she stands arm-in-arm with him for a snapshot.

“American actress Jessica Chastain is in Ukraine today,” Zelensky’s account stated in a submit accompanying the pictures.

“For us, such visits of famous people are extremely valuable,” it added. “Thanks to this, the world will hear, know and understand the truth about what is happening in our country even more.”

Ben Stiller, Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn and Liev Schreiber have all made journeys to the war-torn nation following Russia’s unprovoked offensive.

Penn made the largest headlines in Ukraine when he was on the bottom filming a documentary in February as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces moved in. The “Milk” star met with Zelensky on the eve of Russia’s invasion.

“Meeting with President Zelensky the day before the invasion, and then meeting with him again on the day of the invasion, I don’t know if he knew that he was born for this,” Penn stated in a March interview on CNN.

“I do know that we have to invest everything that we have to support the Ukrainian people and to support President Zelensky, or I do not think we will have a legitimate memory of what America hopes to be,” Penn, a co-founder of CORE Response, informed Anderson Cooper.

But the visits to a conflict zone from wealthy and well-known celebrities don’t come with out criticism.

“I think it’s highly problematic, what they’re doing,” Ilan Kapoor, the creator of “Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity,” informed ITK of Hollywood photo-ops in Ukraine.

“Who do [Hollywood stars] represent? If you think about it, they only represent themselves, and this is because they need and crave a public recognition to build up their brand,” added Kapoor, a professor of important growth research at York University in Canada.

“It’s all about branding.”

Kapoor stated he doesn’t fault Zelensky — himself a TV actor and well-known face in Ukraine earlier than he entered politics — for the star-studded meet-and-greets.

“He’s a clever and Media-savvy leader, so he knows Ukraine is much weaker than the giant that is [President Vladimir] Putin’s Russia. And also he knows that the only way small and relatively weaker parts of Ukraine can resist the Russian invasion is by keeping up the pressure on the West to continue its support,” stated Kapoor.

For Zelensky, using social Media, the press, and the “whole Western celebrity machine,” is an “effective way” to proceed to use that strain amid doubtlessly waning public curiosity, based on Kapoor.

Stiller, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations’s refugee company, UNHCR, has opened up about his causes for touching down in Ukraine in June. The “Severance” director and “Meet the Fockers” star known as Zelensky his “hero” when he met with him on World Refugee Day.

In a press release following his one-on-one with the Ukrainian president, Stiller stated the aim of his journey was to “stand in solidarity with people forced to flee in Ukraine and worldwide” and to “bring more attention to the humanitarian situation.”

Reflecting on the journey in an interview with Deadline this week, the 56-year-old entertainer stated being on the bottom there gave him a perspective he wouldn’t in any other case have as a result of it “makes you think what you’d do in that situation.”

Darrell West, a vice chairman and director of governance research on the Brookings Institution, says Zelensky’s high-profile get-togethers are a “great way to drive Media coverage because reporters love celebrities, and so it’s a wonderful photo-op for Zelensky to be with a leading celebrity.”

But West, who penned the ebook “Celebrity Politics,” says that doesn’t imply these encounters essentially transfer the needle.

“People understand celebrities are not substantive experts, so they don’t take their public comments that seriously on specialized topics such as foreign policy,” he stated.

“But celebrities raise Money, and they can drive Media coverage, so they can Help leaders set the agenda on the things they care about.”

Not everyone who’s someone in Hollywood is able to jet off to Ukraine to look by Zelensky’s facet. Pink Floyd star Roger Waters made headlines this week when he known as President Biden a “war criminal” after the commander in chief approved greater than $8 billion in safety help for Ukraine over the course of 17 packages.

Also this week, “Under Siege” actor Steven Seagal appeared in a video that aired on a Russian state-owned TV community through which he repeated the Kremlin’s claims that Kyiv was answerable for a lethal strike at an japanese Ukrainian jail.

But with latest polls exhibiting nearly all of Americans help the U.S. authorities response to Russia’s invasion — with 63 p.c of these surveyed in an Economist-YouGov ballot final month saying it’s been “about right or “should be tougher” — celebrities are prone to discover a “safe issue” in backing Ukraine and Zelensky.

“As you edge into more divisive topics, celebrities often choose to stay away from them because they don’t want to suffer a backlash from taking a public stance on a contentious issue,” stated West.

Yet because the conflict drags on and the main target of Americans and the Media could drift elsewhere, Kapoor stated Zelensky may very nicely play host to numerous extra Hollywood guests.

“It’s such a desperate situation, [Zelensky] needs to do whatever he needs to do. But celebrities are not desperate.”

Kapoor instructed Hollywood gamers can higher serve causes they care about by “taking a background role,” or donating anonymously to respected organizations.

“These are highly privileged people who need to know their place and don’t,” stated Kapoor, “and the system only encourages them to continue to, I think in the end, do much more harm than they do good.”

But Zelensky and his authorities have indicated that there’s an actual profit to highlighting visits from well-known names and retaining Ukraine within the limelight.

A June tweet from Ukraine’s division of protection thanked Hollywood stars reminiscent of Penn, Schreiber, Jolie and Stiller, who “despite the danger, have visited us.”

“You are more than just an inspiration to all of us,” the message stated. “Millions around the world have heard the truth from you about the struggle of the [Ukrainian] people.”

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