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Celeb "Burma" Campaign: Condescending or Commendable?

Celeb "Burma" Campaign: Condescending or Commendable?

Though this Spring's cyclone brought Myanmar crashing into our consciousness, the front page ink is drying — and along with it awareness for what is an extended situation for the Burmese to bear. Ah but first, is it Burma or Myanmar? The military regime changed the name from Burma to Myanmar (a short version of the name of the country in the local language) in 1989.

The change is recognized by the UN and France and Japan, among others, though officially the US and UK don't. It's a question of does one let the country dictate the name, or does accepting the title bestowed by an undemocratically elected junta become a tacit approval of the regime? Even newspapers vacillate on what to call the country — the AP Stylebook uses the M-word, though it seems locals when writing use the formal Myanmar, but when speaking say Burma.

That said, there are still movements out there trying to call attention to the human rights abuses in Myanmar. Chief among them, this: a celeb-filled ad on behalf of the USCampaignForBurma. I don't know quite what to make of this campaign, but I will admit, initially it got under my skin. Sarah Silverman pointing at a map telling me what the cue card says she should say I should know about, and Tila Tequila teaching geography amid her own mountain range? At least Sylvester Stallone cops to his previous ignorance about the problem and seems sincere. But watching it again, the ad does highlight vital info about the jailed prodemocracy leader, and the need to care long after the the initial glut of info following the cyclone. But something about it seems so unnervingly casual and flip. Honestly, what do you think? Is this a great ad?

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