Without a doubt, AIDS is still a hot charitable topic in Hollywood. But it used to be the hot charitable topic. Now the A-list aren’t just competing for roles in Ron Howard pictures but for charity dollars for their own causes. Cancer. MS. 9/11. Africa. The environment. Hurricane Katrina. Angelina Jolie, Barbra Streisand, Ellen DeGeneres, and Leonardo DiCaprio are becoming just as famous for their outreach as they are for their screen time.
Maybe it’s the burnout factor. Or perhaps it’s because Hollywood has a short attention span. But as AIDS enters its 25th year, it is no longer The Cause among celebrities. There is also the perception that AIDS now affects only developing nations instead of the U.S., where ever-improving medical cocktails are helping those with HIV live longer.
We can always count on Elton John and Liza Minelli to bring in the bucks for AIDS research and treatment. And keeping CO2 emissions down is a worthy cause. So is finding a cure for prostate cancer, helping Katrina victims find new homes, and making sure the people on the poorest continent in the world have enough food to eat.
But decreasing attention from celebrities seems to coincide with less funding for HIV/AIDS. Gone are the red ribbons from the Academy Awards red carpet, and gone too are budget increases for AIDS shelters. Choosing a charitable cause is quickly becoming a decision on which color ribbon or arm band matches you dress.