Mia Farrow recently announced she was going to launch a hunger strike. Why now? It was three days ahead of the premiere of the latest Woody Allen movie. Coincidence?
True, Woody Allen movies come out so frequently that it would be difficult to stage a humanitarian protest at a moment when he wasn’t either releasing a movie, announcing his next project, or getting mentioned at the Oscars. Maybe Farrow means business.
Or maybe she doesn’t. In a Huffington Post piece telling the world about her Darfur diet — she’ll be drinking water only, she says, starting next Monday (don’t all of us put off our starting our new weight-loss regimen?) — Farrow says that her reasons are to register “solidarity with the people of Darfur” (do starving Sudanese refugees read the Huffington Post?) and “outrage at a world that is somehow able to stand by and watch innocent men, women and children needlessly die of starvation, thirst and disease.” That’s a pretty broad reach of indignation. People have always died of starvation, thirst, and disease. People are dying of disease right now in the neighborhood where Farrow lived for many years. Is Farrow outraged by every death? Or is it just the “needless” ones that bother her?
The Darfur atrocities, though, aren’t needless in the sense of being random or without purpose. Sudan’s dictator, Omar al-Bashir, is an Islamist Arab whose militias have been ruthlessly exterminating farmers in a racially-fueled grab for land, resources, and power. If somebody dies in his warm hospital bed on the Upper West Side because a doctor got careless and infected him during surgery, maybe that’s a pointless death. The deaths caused by Bashir are pointed. They’re intentional. And he isn’t sitting around thinking, “The value of the lives of black African farmers depends on the views of that woman who was so delightful in Purple Rose of Cairo.”
Like most hunger strikes, this one (yes, it’ll be Twittered) is meant not to cause change directly, but to generate publicity that could someday lead to change. If only more of us were aware, goes this line of thinking, we could stop the slaughter. Sort of the way applause brings Tinkerbell back to life.