"HITLER is alive in Burma" reads the words scrawled on a cardboard sign, held aloft by a sweet-faced Ellen Page, the "Juno" star, in a 90-second human-rights public awareness message that began showing on video-sharing Web sites last week.
The spot is one of 30 produced for U.S. Campaign for Burma, starring celebrities like Will Ferrell and Jennifer Aniston. They will be distributed on Fanista.com, a social-networking and entertainment retail site, then passed along to sites like YouTube and Google Video every day for the next month. The goal of the campaign is to thrust the cause of human rights in Burma -- now known as Myanmar -- into the orbit of A-list activist causes, along with Tibet and Darfur, and to encourage international pressure on a government that activists say is one of the world's most oppressive.
Attention will not be easy to gain, never mind actually pressuring the government. As with other global campaigns, activists must figure out how to make Americans care about a distant crisis with complex causes involving relatively unknown players. And they must also make themselves heard in the glut of worthy causes, all with a chorus of earnest celebrities crying "Urgent!"
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