November 2005 (v8 i3)
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African celebrity visits starving Hollywood masses
Activist actress brings hugs, condescension
by Kathryn Edwards, Associate Editor

Physicists performing superconductor
research in the basement of RLM use the
temperature of Calista Flockhart and Lara
Flynn Boyle's hands as an approximation of
absolute zero.
LOS ANGELES — Famed South African actress Puma Mugabe recently flew to southern California to witness firsthand what pervasive starvation looks like. Mugabe had learned while filming a movie about Hollywood that many people there, especially young women, rarely eat a full meal and sometimes even consume fewer than 750 calories a day.

Mugabe's first stop was the green room of the Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards, an annual gathering of some of the most emaciated people in the United States.

"I have never seen such squalor or destitution in my life," explained a shaken Mugabe. "It was so horrific. There is no way any of those women have eaten in the past two weeks. I literally felt sick to my heart afterwards, because I had totally never really seen starving people up close."

Mugabe was so moved by the despair of the underweight women that she tried to adopt one and take her back to Africa to have a better life. Her attorneys attempted to contact Nicole Ritchie on several occasions throughout the duration of the trip, but a representative for the American socialite made it clear that she would not being going to Africa unless it was for another installment of The Simple Life.

After her stop at the Teen Choice Awards, Mugabe toured the rest of hunger-stricken Hollywood. Most of the locals she interacted with, however, had no idea who Mugabe was or why they were being stared at.

"This woman stared at me for five minutes and then came over and started asking me these weird questions," said aspiring actress Kate Blair. "She wanted to know where my village was and if I wanted to move to Africa. And to top it off, she gave me a lollipop and hugged me. I thought I was being punk'd or something."

The African visitor, however, did not notice the feelings of the malnourished people she interviewed.

"Seeing the look of hope on their thin, famished faces was so powerful," described Mugabe, talking to a reporter in her five-star Hollywood hotel room. "Something about being this close to people really puts things in perspective. I mean, in Africa I have so much, but there are people out there who, you know, don't even eat or anything."

Mugabe's visit comes on the heels of recent international pressure to donate more aid to alleviate hunger around the world. Hollywood was named by the United Nations as the starvation capital of the U.S., because it has the highest concentration of female malnourishment.

When asked about Mugabe's trip and how it will affect the battle to end starvation, Arthur Boyle, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, answered:

"It's always great to see people getting involved and doing their part. Someone like me, for example, who has dedicated his entire life to the eradication of hunger, is always really pleased to see a celebrity take a vacation and bring attention to this problem. We all have to work together on this."

Critics have pointed out that Mugabe's trip, which she calls the beginning of her new campaign, "Totally End Hunger," is somewhat misdirected.

"It is difficult for someone outside Western culture to understand that starvation can be voluntary in a completely non-religious and self-obsessed type of way," clarified Harvard University American studies professor Jacob Burns. "Miss Mugabe probably mistook hordes of underweight people in one city as some kind of unfortunate economic byproduct instead of a celebration of vain-glorious bitchiness."

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