It’s been a little over a month since the devastating Maui wildfires, with much of the once beautiful and prosperous land still coated in ash and rubble. Amidst the devastation, some celebrities are pledging to help. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recently posted a video alongside Oprah Winfrey on his TikTok asking people to donate money to help those affected by the wildfires. And while it may have started with good intentions, many online are criticizing the video as tone deaf given their combined wealth.
The People’s Fund of Maui was created by Dwayne and Oprah as a way of helping Lahaina residents who were displaced by the wildfires. The two then announced the charity’s creation on TikTok, along with the news that they were pledging a combined $10 million to get things started.
@Oprah and I are honored to announce the People’s Fund of Maui, a fund putting money directly in the pockets of those who were affected by the recent wildfires. As we have seen firsthand, the impacts of these wildfires have been devastating, and we’re here to ensure with 100% guarantee that your donations will go directly into the hands of Lahaina residents. Every adult resident who lives in the affected area and was displaced by the wildfires in Lahaina and Kula is eligible to receive $1200 per month to help them through this period of recovery. All you have to do is go to PeoplesFundofMaui.org to apply. We are honored to start this campaign with $10 million dollars and ask for your help in donating to those who have lost their homes. We thank you in advance for your contribution. Click the link in bio to learn more and give🙏🏾♬ original sound - The Rock
While this gesture seems generous from the outset, many in the comments are calling them out for asking the normal denizens of society for donations when Rock and Oprah combined are worth over $3 billion. One commenter notes, “You and Oprah have enough money to build a whole new maui from scratch, you got this.” Another displeased comment states that “you [Rock] are worth 820 MILLION dollars. Oprah BILLIONS. You guys have got this.”
People also seem to be taking issue with Oprah citing Dolly Parton’s past philanthropic ventures as inspiration behind the organization. In 2016 Dolly set up a similar charity to raise money for the victims of wildfires that devastated eastern Tennessee. From this, many of Oprah and Rock’s critics have argued that Dolly donated her own money without asking regular people for help. But according to this Snopes article, that may not be the case. Despite what’s being spread online, the country icon with a net worth of $650 million did in fact ask normal people to donate their hard-earned money. So it could be argued that both Oprah and The Rock are following the same social media plan with People’s Fund of Maui.
There’s certainly a critique to be made about celebrities – who have more money than I’ll ever see in three lifetimes – asking people living paycheck-to-paycheck to give money when they themselves could give so much more. However, the optimist in me wants to believe that Rock and Oprah are coming from a place of genuine concern and a desire to help those devastated by the wildfires. If you’d like to donate to those affected by the Maui wildfires, click here.