Arts and Culture

Celebs blackmail fans with Twitter embargo to raise money for AIDS orphans

Celebrities don't really owe the world anything. They do what they do and we treat them like royalty for it and ask nothing in return, except these days for maybe a tweet every couple hours to let us know what they are doing and thinking throughout every day of their lives. But now Alicia Keys has teamed up with other A-list celebs to revoke that privilege in the name of saving lives.

They're calling it their digital deaths. In conjunction with World AIDS Day, Alicia Keys, Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and other celebrities with exorbitant Twitter followings have recorded their "Last Tweet and Testaments" and pulled the plug on their digital transmissions to fans through Twitter and Facebook, starting this week, until they have collectively raised $1 million for Keep A Child Alive, Keys's AIDS charity. However corny the premise may be, the idea will probably work famously. Raising the money should be cake considering Lady Gaga alone has over 7.2 million followers on Twitter, so even if only five percent of her fans donated the ten dollars, they'd blow the million dollar goal out of the water.

Stylish photos of the philanthropic celebs on the fundraiser website show them in coffins with their trusty smart phones black by their side after "sacrificing their digital lives to save millions." The concept has got to be one of the most genius fundraising ploys ever. The participants don't have to do anything at all to raise the money; in fact, they have to do the exact opposite of anything. You know you have major pop-culture pull when you can stop saying random things and people will pay to get you to start back up again. The charity has already raised over $160,000...since Wednesday.

Ordinary people like you and me can kill our digital selves on the website also, and many have, but unless you have at least 100,000 followers it's really just a symbolic thing to show your support. Nobody cares whether you tweet or not. We want Gaga.

They are making it really easy for people to donate money through text to bring your favorite celebrity back to life, which carries a ten dollar minimum. There is also a T-shirt you can buy that has a super sweet high-tech bar code thing that anyone with a smartphone can scan in order to donate, and they'll receive a special thank-you video from Alicia Keys herself. You can also presumably scan the code off the website in case you don't find someone with the T-shirt. And let's be frank here: If you can afford a phone that can do any of that, you can afford to donate a measly ten dollars to improve the lives of children who were born with the shit-end of the genetic lottery stick.

This altruistic form of blackmail will keep the celebrity tweets away from us indefinitely, so you better cough up the cash if you ever want to read another Kardashian tweet again. Now, even self-absorbed compassionless people too concerned with Timberlake's daily routine to care about kids can inadvertently help children orphaned by AIDS. Alicia Keys has managed to convert self-interest into benevolence. That is amazing. To do your part, or to learn more and then do nothing, visit

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Ben Dayton
Contact: Ben Dayton