|+ Comic Relief's 'White Saviour' outdated?
The registered charity Comic Relief
was launched live from a Sudanese refugee camp on Christmas Day in 1985 (different times, it was different times people). In its 30+ years of history, it has raised in excess of £1,200,000bn. However, in 2019 some are asking if the Comic Relief formula is now only serving to bolster an outdated image of the colonial white saviour. These criticisms have been growing since Ed Sheeran
was accused of committing 'poverty tourism' for the charity in 2019.
Most recently, British MP David Lammy
has stated that the charities formula of "British celebrities being flown out by Comic Relief ...sends a distorted image of Africa which perpetuates an old idea from the colonial era." Lammy goes on to state that "the charity is doing very little to educate the public" and that the images of celebrities "holding a black child" strips these communities of any sense of agency, and does nothing to support the role of the emerging middle class in African countries.
This criticism is relevant, given that good practice today tells us to treat people as equal partners, and in a dignified and respectful manner. The recipients of aid and the subjects of Comic Relief's films do not need celebrities to tell their stories. However, some
are suggesting that for the sake of fundraising through celebrity-leverage, it is also important that not all charitable celebrity 'white-on-black' (sic) endeavours are automatically dismissed as condescending and offensive.