Celebrities can make money in a variety of ways. For example, Bristol Palin made $262,500 for her work for the Candies Foundation. Interestingly enough, while Candies is clearly incredibly generous with its paychecks, it only donated $35,000 in grants to teen pregnancy and health clinics.
Bristol’s video sends a somewhat odd, if honest, message. The gist of it seems to be that non-affluent teens (such as those who will not be paid $262,500 to appear in a video) should probably not have sex. If they do, they could get pregnant and end up with bad hair, an empty apartment, crappy clothing and a kid. In contrast, affluent teens (such as Bristol) will have styled hair, jewelry, nice clothes and a very nice place to live (plus the kid).
Not surprisingly, there has been considerable criticism of the Candie’s Foundation and Bristol regarding this matter.
Interestingly, Candies’ web site now describes its purpose as follows:
The Candie’s Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to shape the way youth in America think about teen pregnancy and parenthood. We are an operating foundation rather than a grant-making foundation. The foundation develops and runs communication campaigns to raise awareness about, and motivate teens to prevent, teen pregnancy.
While this might seem a bit defensive, it could be argued that creating PSAs using extremely well paid celebrities rather than helping teens via grants is morally justifiable. To be specific, it could be argued that the $262,500 paid to Bristol Palin for her work will have a more significant positive impact on teen pregnancy and parenthood than using the money for other purposes relating to these matters (such as grants to teen pregnancy and health clinics).
This, however, seems to be an implausible line of reasoning for three reasons. First, PSAs seem to have little impact on peoples’ behavior. Long before PSAs, Aristotle was well aware that discourse has very little impact on how people behave and argued in support of his claim in the Nicomachean Ethics. It is also intuitively implausible that teen hormones would be overcome by such PSAs.
Second, even if it is assumed that PSAs have a significant impact on behavior, these PSAs are being offset by commercials that certainly seem to be very pro sex. Interestingly enough, these commercials include ads put out by Candie’s (the fashion brand, not the foundation). For example, consider the message sent by the following Candie’s ad and compare it to the Candie’s Foundation ad campaign. Perhaps the plan is to create a net balance: PSAs about pregnancy offsetting very sexual ads.
Third, consider what that amount of money would do in terms of helping teen mothers by providing grants for clinics and sex education. Intuitively, this would seem to do more good and have far more of an impact than cutting checks to celebrities.
That said, the foundation is free to do with its money as it pleases (although this might displease some of its donors). However, it does seem that the money is being spent poorly in terms of the stated goals of the foundation.