Can celebrities be diplomats?

Only recently I posted a comment about the bono-isation of protest in the discussion forum for the driver rise of single-issues. Since then I have come across several interesting pieces on the role of celebrities in influencing public policy and particularly foreign policy. The first piece comes in the form of a new book Celebrity Diplomacy by Andrew Cooper, Director of the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Canada - a summary can by found in the article Beyond Hollywood and the Boardroom. Contrary to some, Cooper considers celebrity diplomacy to be more than a passing fad and believes it represents a new category of networking which will continue to impact in the future. For him celebrity diplomacy brings together “the ‘buzz’ of Hollywood and the ‘bite’ of substantial corporate philanthropy”, with celebrities such as Bono drawing in significant sums of money from business entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates or Richard Branson.

Of course, Cooper acknowledges the reservations people may have; one of the key criticisms being that the involvement of celebrities in public policy development comes at the expense of alternative voices and diffuses more radical forms of participation (this is also Klein's point which I mentioned in my forum post). This brings me to the second interesting piece I saw on the subject - an article in this week’s Financial Times - The aid crusade and Bono’s brigade which reviews the limitations of the growing influence of celebrity diplomacy particularly well.

Last updated at 15:08 Mon 18/May/09.
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