Image from Public Domain Pictures
Five Finger Death Punch, a rock band with a kick-ass name, has a song called “Wrong Side of Heaven.” It sheds light on how poorly our heroic veterans are treated. Over 1.4 million of our veterans are living on the streets, forgotten and discarded like human garbage. “An estimated 460,000 veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder-ptsd.” Our veterans administration doesn’t have nearly enough resources to serve our veterans. Throughout the music video, FFDP constantly reminds you that these aren’t just facts, aren’t just numbers. These are real people, real things going on right now. “In the time you were watching this video a veteran somewhere took his own life. Nearly 5000 veterans die by their own hands every year. That’s one veteran every two hours.”
Yet the band doesn’t stop there. They don’t merely point out the issue that is eating away at our veterans. They are spreading awareness and end with “If you want to join the cause and help or you are a veteran in need, contact one of these organizations.” It follows that with a list including Boot Campaign, American Ex-Prisoners of War, American Forces Network, American Gulf War Veterans Association, American Legion, American Veterans for Equal Rights, and many more. They aren’t marketing the suffering of our veterans. FFDP is truly trying to make a difference, using their influence as a popular metal band to reach as many people as they can.
This is how celebrities need to handle activism. They don’t need to directly supply a solution: they need to raise awareness, arm the public with an arsenal of knowledge, and either create their own organization that you can help or supply others. Stating an issue isn’t enough. What if they had simply said that veterans were suffering. Viewers would think, “Ok, that sucks. But what could I even do about it?” That’s why they provided an array of organizations that we can join to make a difference. While it would be nice if everyone was willing to make their own organization, most Americans don’t have the knowledge or know-how. Providing existing ones gives everyone an equal opportunity to use their strengths to make a difference.
In Ginia Bellafante’s article Shia LaBeouf and the Pitfalls of Celebrity Activism, she criticizes celebrity activism as a lightning rod of trouble. She rightly points out that many celebrities who complain about issues don’t face hardships anywhere near the average American’s. “At the Women’s March on Washington last month, Ashley Judd surely endeared herself to not a single factory worker in Michigan when she raised the issue of female actors getting paid less than their male counterparts. Let the Bastille be stormed for the right of everyone to make $20 million a picture.” This reminds me of football players like Colin Kaepernick who has kneeled during the national anthem on countless occasions in protest of racial inequality and brutality. Says the man who has made millions by tossing a football around (to the wrong team I might add). I don’t think you have any right to complain about inequality. The author of this article is correct, but she is also a hypocrite. She, like the celebrities she criticized, is posing an issue and not providing a solution. I believe that FFDP has provided that solution.
If you wish to listen to their amazing song for yourself, watch it here.