Sunday, September 30, 2007

Prerogatives of Money & Fame?

The media are all giving attention to Jenna Bush's book tour. It seems she has written the story of "Ana", an abused HIV positive teen she met while working as an intern for UNICEF. The publisher has reportedly printed a 1st run of a half million copies, an amount that suggests they expect huge sales. Ms. Bush, who is sporting a new diamond and sapphire engagement ring, says she changed the name and country of the young woman who's story she tells "to protect her privacy". Her alleged motive in writing the book is to make people more aware of the problems of teens in Ana's situation.

I confess to not having read the book. I have made a point to read several reviews and articles about both the book and the tour and I note that in none of them does it say Ms. Bush is donating any of the profits from the book to addressing those problems. Some do say that writing this book improves her image from past bad press and shows that Ms. Bush has matured.

Perhaps I'm just being cynical but "Ana's Story" strikes me as a example of someone using her access to the media as the daughter of the president, and her position with an organization that was meant to help the less fortunate, to expropriate the story of one of those less fortunate for personal profit and image enhancement. I'd feel more inclined to think this was a truly humanitarian effort if somewhere in the promotional sales hype there was some small mention of exactly how the book helps the person whose life story it exploits and not just the image and purse of its already privileged author.

10/29/07: A correction is due. Since writing the above I have learned that 'some' of the proceeds will go to UNICEF. While that is commendable I still feel that "Ana" has had her story appropriated for the financial & public relations benefit of the author.

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