Celebrity philanthropy: the good, the bad, and the ugly

By Lwilliams

In the spirit of “RESIST THE IST” (and free money for college), we want to take a look at the stereotypes surrounding some of the most well-known celebrities out there — and how our perception of them compares to how they give back. With social media and a constant stream of reporters telling us celebrities' every move, it’s hard not to think that you know them personally. But, are we putting a label on them without giving them a chance? Are we becoming “celebrit-ist” (OK, maybe we made that word up) and judging the rich and famous based solely on their extravagant lifestyles and frivolous spending? Let’s take a look at some of the good, the bad, and the ugly in celebrity philanthropy.

The good

We just might have to agree. Courtesy of teen.com
We just might have to agree. Courtesy of Teen.com.

It’s no surprise that Taylor Swift quickly became America’s sweetheart. It’s hard not to have a little bit of a soft spot for the girl. She may have a long list of ex-lovers (or perhaps Starbucks lovers, the jury is still out) that call her insane, but one fan isn't complaining about her name being on that blank space — the blank space on a check for $1,989 to help pay off her student loans, that is. She lives up to her sweetheart reputation by doting on her fans, sending them gifts, and even seeing the value in a college education. Sure, she’s quirky and perhaps a little unlucky in love — but in our books, T. Swift gets the stamp of approval.

Taylor Swift fan gift
$1,989 closer to paying off student loans! Courtesy of Beks on Twitter.

The bad

Alec "make it rain scholarships" Baldwin — courtesy of Bustle.com
Alec "make it rain scholarships" Baldwin. Courtesy of Bustle.com.

Alec Baldwin has often been in the news more for his public antics than his acting roles. A few years ago, he was booted from an American Airlines flight for playing WordsWithFriends before takeoff (we get it, those games are addictive). He was also arrested in 2014 — granted it was for riding his bike the wrong way down a street. His F-bomb tirade was what helped make it newsworthy, though. But, despite his feuding, Alec has a soft spot in his heart for his alma mater. He supports Tisch School of the Arts of NYU with his Alec Baldwin Drama Scholarship Fund and the Talent Identification Process (TIP). Alec has said, “At a time when funds for higher education appear to be more difficult than ever to access, it’s my great pleasure to do what I can to bring the best possible candidates into the Tisch program, which I believe is the best in the country.” So, even though Alec gets a bad rep, he’s actually pretty awesome when it comes to supporting education.

The ugly

Kanye "the best" West — courtesy of Giphy.com
Kanye "the best" West. Courtesy of Giphy.com.

We won’t deny that Kanye West has given us some of the best material for classic SNL skits, but he isn’t exactly known for all the right reasons. He’s a talented lyricist and rapper, no doubt (we can’t stop quoting “Sunglasses and Advil. Last night was mad real.” #tooreal), but the magic Kanye spits in his lyrics seems to disappear when it comes to talking — and just about everything else. He was seen grabbing the mic from T. Swift at the VMA awards, saying that the president (then George W. Bush) doesn't care about black people, and a slew of other notoriously memorable quotes. Not exactly Yeezus-worthy. As for his charitable contributions, he co-founded the Dr. Donda West Foundation with his mother to help lower the number of school dropouts. But even that came under fire. You won’t find it today because it “mysteriously” closed back in 2011. It was reported that the non-profit spent $500,000 in a year, but gave back $0. So, with all that extra money, perhaps he just needs a fan to reach out to him and ask for college financial support. (Just sayin’, guys. He could use some good PR.)