These days, anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion.
Jay Z is coming under fire over recent comments that compares water to the music industry. “Water is free,” the hip-hop mogul told the New York Times. “You should drink free water from the tap — it’s a beautiful thing. And if you want to hear the most beautiful song, then support the artist.”
While I understood the point he was trying to make, many people — including Denver Water executive Steve Snyder — did not think it was appropriate. Taking to his company’s blog, Steve penned an open letter to Jay Z asking the Grammy award winner to stick to his own business.
“I get what you are saying,” wrote Snyder. “Artists should be paid for the music they create. But to say that ‘water is free while music is $6’ isn’t exactly true.”
I personally am not going to get into the breakdown of how water is or isn’t free. To my knowledge, many people pay for their water, gas or electricity through a utility bill. If you live on land that operates off well water (I do), you technically don’t have to pay for water, but do need equipment and other materials to process it. Like I said, this whole debate can get very technical and complicated.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Yes there are many celebrities who probably couldn’t tell you the average cost of gas today, let alone a gallon of milk. What’s interesting about this criticism is that some believe celebrities should do more with their money when it comes to helping others in need. “At one point, you were reported to have a net worth of $510 million,” Steve adds. “When trying to calculate how much water you could buy with that, my calculator short circuited.”
This raises the question: Do celebrities have a social responsibility or decree to use their money for the betterment of everyone?
Even though Steve personally never asked for a donation, there are many who believe high-profile figures should in fact use some of their paycheck to solve world problems. In the case of the water crisis — which is far worse in underdeveloped countries — stars like Matt Damon co-founded organizations like Water.org to help provide solutions to the billions affected by daily water and sanitation needs. Does this mean Jay needs to follow suit?
No matter how much a celebrity chooses to give or donate, I’m not sure it will ever be enough. Jay Z and Beyoncé reportedly put up bail money for protesters in both Ferguson and Baltimore not too long ago. That gesture raised some eyebrows; some couldn’t believe why they would help people in jail, even if they were peacefully exercising their right to voice their opinion.
Heck Taylor Swift couldn’t catch a break when she made good on her promise to donate proceeds from her song, “Welcome to New York” to New York City public schools. The tune made $50,000 which some didn’t think was enough.
I think it’s really easy to target certain people and ask what have you done for me lately. Sure it would be great if more celebrities and people in positions of power practiced social responsibility, but at the end of the day, we just don’t know what they do behind closed doors. Not every cause they hold dear to their hearts will be at the top of our lists of most important causes, which can easily turn good deeds into rants about doing more.