The stark contrast of unemployment and homelessness on “Main Street” against the glut and excess in Hollywood is most pronounced during award seasons. It is, at this time, vendors compete with each other to give away their wares to those who need it the least – successful celebrities. This display of greed and extreme materialism occurs at gifting suites where television and movie stars arrive expecting swag i.e. free clothing, cameras, jewels, purses, haircuts, massages etc. for simply being famous and on the slight chance that they plug the item on the red carpet. Each year, suite organizers try to outdo each other by offering bigger, better and more outrageous gifts to lure in the “A-listers”, who, really, can afford to purchase whatever they wish. (Can Paris Hilton not afford a new dress or scented candle?)
This relentless display of avarice, at a time when so much philanthropy is needed, is disturbing under the best of circumstances - but this year - the GBK suite actually offered live pigs as swag. These pigs, though adorable, require food, veterinary care and constant maintenance. As, is the case with any pet, they should neither be an impulse acquisition nor a prize. Most important –they are not accessories or earrings! When the attention span for these new “toys” wanes – it is the non-profits, who must clean up the mess, bear the costs of caring for them, and, who can least afford to do so.
We consequently find ourselves in a place where the wealthy receive free pearls, the needy get nothing and the tiny pigs are left holding the swag bag.