If Violet Affleck can make a difference for Gaza, why can’t your fave?

We didn't know who she was before this, but a fashion statement from the 18-year-old helped raise $120,000 for Palestine in a week.
17 Jan, 2024

Violet Affleck was pictured wearing a black sweatshirt with a watermelon printed on it a few weeks ago. Soon after, Wear The Peace Co, the brand behind the sweatshirt, received hundreds of orders for the same shirt and raised over $120,000 for Gaza.

Did you know who Violet Affleck was before this? Neither did we. The only reason she was photographed was because she was standing next to her mother, actor Jennifer Garner. Her father is fellow actor Ben Affleck. However, Violet herself is not a celebrity.

Yet, her wearing a sweatshirt in a paparazzi snapshot helped a war-torn city.

Several pro-Israel pages were quick to jump on the hate-wagon and bash her for her sweatshirt, including one that claimed it “erases the entire country of Israel”. People like Fatima Bhutto were quick to call out the hypocrisy in that statement — “An 18 year old wearing a watermelon on a shirt ‘erases the entire country of Israel’ but dropping hundreds of thousands of tons of explosives on a besieged civilian population… is ok”.

The Zionist fixation with Violet’s sweatshirt actually helped the Palestinian cause because the brand making it donated 100 per cent of its proceeds to an NGO in Gaza. This got us wondering about the impact popular Western celebrities could have if they raised their voices for the Palestinian cause instead of hiding behind the pretence of apoliticism.

Netizens seem to be thinking along the same lines, as many reposted Violet’s picture and questioned what prominent celebrities could accomplish if they too supported the cause. One Twitter user aptly pointed out the “disgraceful silence of most American celebrities”.

Celebrity actions, words and opinions can have significant influence. For example, BTS fans planted trees for one of the member’s birthday in his name, knowing the cause was important to him.

Footballer Christiano Ronaldo, despite being quite the controversial (and problematic) celebrity, caused waves when he pushed away bottles of Coca-Cola and encouraged audiences to “drink water” during a press conference. The video’s virality was such that his “snub” saw Coca-Cola’s market value fall by $4 billion, as share prices decreased by 1.6%, according to ESPN.

Bear in mind that Ronaldo did not so much as mention Palestine or Israel. In fact, this video is from two years ago, before Israel amped up its war on Gaza and support for Palestine soared. The aftermath? Coca-Cola said, “Everyone is entitled to their drink preferences”.

Now think of your powerful, influential faves and how they can come out unscathed while supporting an important cause with the smallest of actions.

Think about the difference Taylor Swift could make with 279 million followers, Selena Gomez with 429 million followers, or Harry Styles with 48.4 million followers. A simple Instagram story, or link, or just a gesture like Violet’s could make the biggest difference if you are one of the most popular people in the world.

Consider the power Swift holds. According to Forbes, after Swift attended her new beau Travis Kelsey’s football match, the National Football League had 27 million viewers, the most for a Sunday night game since the last Super Bowl — and much of that spike was due to increased viewership from young women.

In 2014, Miley Cyrus sent a homeless man to accept her MTV Video Music Award on her behalf, bringing attention to the serious issue of homelessness in America. The act raised $200,000 in just one day for an NGO that assists homeless individuals in finding shelters.

While this was a rather elaborate gesture, a smaller move by the likes of Cyrus could accomplish so much and most importantly could prompt fans to educate themselves about the Israel-Palestine conflict, thereby helping them make more informed decisions when it comes to whom they support and elect.

Of course, these celebrities don’t hold the sole onus to bring positive change in the world. However, they need to demonstrate some awareness of their platforms and the difference they can make to a literal war because of their sheer magnitude.

As always, do better Hollywood. Do better.