Irony and Politically Incorrect Humanitarianism. Danish Celebrity-led Benefit Events

Contextualizing celebrity-led benefit events with regard to local cultural norms is of pivotal importance to understanding the rationales behind their execution and potential impact on perceptions and practices of humanitarianism. Based on studies of two Danish annual benefit events, this chapter sheds light on the interplay between local and global contexts. It thereby provides a means of informing studies of mainstream celebrity activism by bringing out the importance of localized particularities. Our findings indicate that though the celebritization of aid takes its inspiration from global trends, it can, in a local national setting, develop in ways that are contrary to the political correctness characteristic of global celebrity humanitarianism. In the Danish cultural context we found that anti-elitist cultural norms and social codes, rooted in local understandings of democratic inclusion and equality, must be inscribed into celebrity performances. This form of performativity is often achieved through ostensibly politically incorrect, unassuming and underplayed, irony. It is, however, an unenlightened democracy, unaware of those it excludes – i.e. the Other who is kept invisible through the legacies of colonial history and the unequal power relations between the Other and Us.

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