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It’s always a let-down when a famous actor or musician you admire uses his or her star power and/or money to advocate for causes that you don’t agree with.
It’s even more bothering when you know you have helped someone fund such a cause by supporting them through the purchase of a music recording, concert ticket or movie ticket. Most specifically, I hate it when a celebrity helps further a cause that is harmful to the agriculture industry.
On the flip side, it makes me smile when famous actors and musicians show an appreciation for the farmers that put food on their table and want to help them.
Throughout this presidential campaign, regardless of our political preferences, many of us have had a good laugh at Alec Baldwin’s spot-on impersonation of now president-elect Donald Trump while appearing on "Saturday Night Live."
But Baldwin has also garnered some attention recently as he has campaigned against eating turkey for Thanksgiving. He has become a spokesman for Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey Project, encouraging consumers to spare a turkey this Thanksgiving, and saying turkeys are subjected to “heartbreaking fear and pain before being killed each and every Thanksgiving.”
While no reasonable person wants turkeys to suffer, it would appear Baldwin isn’t so much interested in proper animal welfare initiatives in commercial turkey production as he is in seeing that there is no commercial turkey production, period. His support for Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Mercy for Animals seems to back up that hunch.
Another performer recently in the spotlight is “country” music singer Carrie Underwood. I put that word in quotation marks because I don’t think of her as country at all, despite the stage time she was given a few weeks ago during the Country Music Association (CMA) awards show.
Underwood proudly proclaims that she is from Checotah, Oklahoma. Since Checotah’s other claim to fame is that it has produced a long list of world champions in professional rodeo, we must conclude that she’s a country girl, right? Wrong.
In 2009, she donated $200,000 to HSUS, which allocates a large percentage of its financial resources to fighting livestock and poultry production, which is not only a driving economic force in her home state of Oklahoma, but the rest of rural America, the segment of the population country music is supposed to relate to. Making matters worse is a photo of the donation shows Underwood flanked by executives from her record label, Sony Music Nashville, unaware that they are slapping those who support them in the face.
Since I primarily use Twitter for work purposes, most of the people, companies and organizations I follow on the social media platform are part of the agriculture industry.
But since I am a mega-huge fan of the rock band Foreigner, and I still crank up “Urgent” and “Dirty White Boy” on my pickup’s stereo like I did as a teenager, I started to follow the band’s original lead singer, Lou Gramm, on Twitter.
Coincidentally, the first tweet from Gramm I saw was related to agriculture. It was a Throwback Thursday picture of Gramm wearing a ball cap with a tractor patch on it, standing next to fellow rocker Jon Bon Jovi. Both were performers at a 1985 Farm Aid concert. “Huge honor to play for this great cause,” Gramm tweeted.
I quickly thanked him for his thoughts.
Now, I don’t want to put words in Gramm’s mouth, but seeing that tweet made me conclude that he appreciated farmers more than 30 years ago and still does to this day. And something makes me think that had he seen me when I wore that worn-out Foreigner concert t-shirt while driving the tractor and doing other summer farm chores, it would have brought a smile to his face.
Some celebrities are a little more subtle about their support for the animal rights movement than Baldwin and Underwood. Luckily, animal agriculture opposition groups like PETA and HSUS are proud to tout who their supporters are.
Looktothestars.org lists who supports PETA, who supports HSUS, and who supports Mercy for Animals. While the lesser-known Mercy for Animals has a list that is a little shorter, the other two lists are very similar with a lot of repetition.
And, yes, Gramm and Bon Jovi are absent from all three lists. Seems those two East Coast rockers are more country than our down-home Oklahoma gal after all.