Sometimes it seems like celebrities can’t help but get involved in political causes. But there’s a big difference between a starlet wearing a “Save Darfur” t-shirt and what Mia Farrow’s been doing on YouTube the past few weeks.
The 64-year-old star of Rosemary’s Baby and Woody Allen’s post-Diane Keaton/pre-Soon-Yi films, Farrow has had a fairly steady acting career while at the same time becoming increasingly committed to the crisis in Darfur, a country she visited 11 times before deciding to fast in an effort to bring awareness to the situation there. To document the process, Farrow was encouraged by her supporters to create a YouTube account where she could post daily updates on her well-being.
The video entries are unscripted yet pretty tight in pace, filmed in her home with a small child audibly playing in the background, offering a pretty candid window into her life. There’s no doubt in my mind that Farrow is the chief creator of these pieces, right down to the hand-written signs she holds up to the camera with phone numbers and URLs for the White House. But they’re not exactly easy to watch — it’s honestly a little disturbing to see the difference between Farrow on Day 3 and Farrow on Day 9, where she admits that she hasn’t left her bedroom in a day in order to conserve energy.
People seem to be of two different minds when it comes to the act of protest-fasting. Advocates claim that it’s a form of non-violent protest that combines personal sacrifice with the raising of awareness; these people tend to reference Gandhi and Cesar Chavez, both of whom fasted for their beliefs. Detractors (some of whom are commenting actively on Farrow’s channel and videos) think that if you want to actively support a cause, purposefully depleting your energy stores is kind of dumb.
Both Gandhi and Chavez were successful in achieving their goals, but the detractors have a point — Farrow announced today that she will be ending her fast for medical reasons. However, her fellow non-eaters remain vigilant; as Farrow ends her fast, Virgin billionaire Richard Branson is beginning his own. (No sign yet of his YouTube channel.)
As best as I can understand it, the situation in Darfur is currently a political one, not a financial one; 13 aid organizations were recently ousted from the country, resulting in reduced means for those affected to receive food and other supplies. So this really is a situation where political action, not donations, is the solution — hence her pleas for people to contact the Obama administration to plead for action.
In a video prelude to her beginning the fast, Farrow savvily admits that she “doesn’t expect that… a hunger strike will do that much, but if it provides a news hook for a newspaper so that they can talk about what’s really important, then it will be worth it.” Well, NewTeeVee isn’t quite the New York Times. But it still worked.