Mia Farrow nine days into three week hunger strike for Darfur


Mia Farrow is on a hunger strike to support Darfur refugees and has been posting videos on her YouTube channel. The LA Times reports that 75 other people so far have pledged on Farrows site to either fast for three weeks or eat the same kind of rations the refugees are eating.

Gabriel Stauring, who helped organize the site, expressed concern for Farrow, with whom he said he'd traveled to Darfur last summer. "You’ve seen Mia’s size," he said. "There’s no way she can go that long without doing permanent damage. We want to convince her that if we have somebody else that is famous and that would draw attention, that she should stop." Stauring suggested that more recognizable names might be joining the effort soon.

Also striking is Pam Omidyar, a founder of the philanthropic group Humanity United, and the wife of EBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Omidyar has been eating the refugee meals for 18 days, according to her blog on fastdarfur.org.

Mia Farrow hits day nine of online hunger strike for Darfur


  1. What does Ms. Farrow expect to come of this? Will the Janjaweed hear about it on the news and think “Oh no! A rich white lady disapproves of what we are doing! I had no idea! Let’s go and distribute teddy bears to the black people!” Somehow, I doubt that’ll happen.

    Will Congress realize that a white person might be hurt, and in order to prevent Ms. Farrow from hurting herself, they go and save the millions of black people in Africa that weren’t worth it before?

    Will more Americans become “aware” of this crisis? Yes, probably, but what then? How many of those Americans will contribute more than a few dollars or hinge their vote on the Darfur crisis? Not enough to do anything, I’ll promise you that.

    I oppose genocide, incl. that in Darfur. However, I also oppose silly feel-good measures that achieve absolutely nothing and expend energy that could be spent solving problems.

  2. Perhaps a simple hunger strike isn’t enough– she might could try poking herself with a fork, or maybe sitting in an uncomfortable chair all day, or possibly anything else which would also do jack shit to benefit the people in Darfur.

    Nothing’s more useless than a hunger strike.

  3. Oh my god! We have to act to save Mia Farrow, right now! Where can we donate to pay for her medical care?

  4. I’m thinking she might get more publicity if she gorged herself for 3 weeks, put on a little weight and had some energy to go out and actually try and make peope aware of her cause.

    She could have just paid for a couple billboards near a freeway exits and reached more people.

  5. @#3 JSO- Nope, you could always have a quick prayer session and then go get a burger.

    In any case, I’m at a loss as to who that is capable of changing anything about the situation in Darfur gives a crap whether the ex-Mrs. Woody Allen is going from gaunt to skeletal.

  6. What do you suppose the actual thought process is here? I mean–a hunger strike while locked up in Gitmo, I get that. But a wealthy celebrity?

    From the outside, I see a certain lack of imagination (this is the only thing she could think of to “[provide] a news hook”? Really?) and a tinge of narcissism.

    What’s that look like from the inside?

  7. I don’t know, maybe she was very disturbed by what she saw in Darfur, and maybe she’s also depressed, and maybe she didn’t imagine this would solve anything but she thought “at least I can do this. I’m useless at politics and I don’t have means enough to dent this problem, but at least I can do this.”

    Maybe she looked at the suffering in Darfur, and looked at her own privileged life, and had an epiphany of empathy which left her heartbroken, and she thought “if they suffer so much, at least I can suffer with them.”

    Or maybe she’s an attention-whoring celebrity. Or maybe she’s crazy.

    But in a case like this I don’t want to rush to judgment just because she’s a celebrity. What she’s doing won’t work to “solve” the problem in Darfur, but she might be doing it for noble or at least honest reasons.

  8. It made the news, didn’t it? The word ‘Darfur’ just got repeated again. That counts for a little bit, I think.

    Or are you all saying it’s not worth doing anything about anything unless we’ve got a foolproof solution to the problem?

    How cynical.

  9. Sure it won’t solve the problem, but it’s a great opportunity for attention whoring.

    Just wait. In three weeks The Mia Farrow Darfur Liberation Diet will be #1 on Amazon.

  10. I am just a bit disturbed that everyone is so profoundly cynical about Farrow’s intentions…

  11. @#12 Nosehat- Doing useless things means basically having a hobby. For that matter, suffering for the sake of suffering is also useless.

    @#13- Probably it’d require massive military intervention to stop what is in effect a genocide. Failing that, a massive evacuation effort to get the victims out of what is a mighty big country and resettle them…again, probably requiring the military to run interference during the process.
    But since countries with militaries that could pull this off aren’t so keen on getting their own citizens killed for some shmucks in the ass-end of Africa, and since it’s iffy that any country wants a few million refugees, I’m guessing we’re pretty much all just going to sit and watch ’em die for a while.

    None of which makes a hunger strike useful, either.

  12. @16- If it makes you feel any better, I’m not cynical about her intentions. I’m quite prepared to believe it’s done out of the most noble sentiment.
    I just think it’s stupid exercise in noble sentiment. File it with going down with the ship and fighting a duel for honor.

    1. I used to know someone who went to a Catholic girls’ school with her. She used to sneak out at night and scourge herself. She has a strong pull toward martyrdom.

  13. @16 Anon: If you’ll notice, I was being the opposite of “profoundly cynical about Farrow’s intentions”

    @17 Cicada: I could frame an argument that having a “hobby” is one of the most profound things that humans do as a species. But just to clarify, I didn’t say it was “useless”. Just because something doesn’t solve the problem in it’s entirety doesn’t make it useless.

  14. She’s totally faking it. Even if she’s not, what makes her think she’s important enough for it to even make a difference?

  15. This just in, Darfur victims donate extra rations to scarily haggard looking white lady!

  16. Probably it’d require massive military intervention to stop what is in effect a genocide. Failing that, a massive evacuation effort to get the victims out of what is a mighty big country and resettle them…again, probably requiring the military to run interference during the process.

    Last year, Mia Farrow looked into sending Blackwater mercs down there to sort the situation out:


    Rather a creative solution actually.
    I don´t know why it didn´t happen though, I hope it wasn’t cancelled because of a lack of funding. Maybe we should pass the hat around?
    Anyway, Mia Farrows interest in Dafur isn’t a just summer fling. it’s evident she’s dedicated to the issue, and possibly a bit desperate by now.

    That beeing said, a “hungerstrike” with a fixed deadline attatched to it is just another name for going on a diet, really.

  17. @#22- This isn’t an example of “not solving a problem in its entirety”, it’s an example of not remotely doing a blessed thing about the problem. You will not, in five years time, be able to point a finger at one person and attribute his survival to Mia Farrow eating less. Trust me on this one.

    @#25 It might involve various laws about private citizens running military ventures in other countries without the slightest hint of government approval or oversight. Fun when William Walker did it back in the 1800s, probably illegal now.

  18. @ # 13 IF she’s interested in making a serious hardcore statement, she could donate her income over, say, $30,000 (which you can live on in NYC if you’re frugal) to medical aid. She could then challenge other celebs to do 1/10th of what she did.

  19. @#27 JJasper– Or if she really wanted to make a demonstration the old-fashioned way, take a page from the Vietnam Buddhists and immolate herself in the middle of Times Square. That would get some media attention…

  20. If I had to choose between her ‘achieving nothing’, which is misrepresenting her action anyway, although she is obviously not reversing the situation all by herself, and the self satisfied, smart assed, cynical, energy depleting, impotent criticism that most commentators have here, which is just a projection of your own inadequacy anyway…

    See how easy it is to throw mud around?

    The lady is doing what she can. She may be this and that but, actually, if every citizen on the West was doing one tenth of what she’s doing, it would become possible to cut all the foreign support (China?) that make it possible for the Sudanese government to pursue its hateful racist revenge on a whole people.

    But what is my word going to achieve facing the mob cry of “LET’S PUT HER IN HER PLACE!” ?

  21. @29- I think you misunderstand a bit, at least from my perspective. The major criticism is of the method she’s chosen– finding it not only ineffective, but stupidly ineffective. No amount of self-destruction is going to do a thing for anyone in Darfur.
    Lobby and fundraise, maybe. Creatively be a pain in the ass until someone who does have enough clout to do something gives it a shot, sure. Stop eating? Childishly silly.

  22. It may not be the most effective or sensible thing to do but it’s better than doing nothing at all. Like CEFEIDA said, it made the news and the crisis has received attention.

  23. @ Cicada:

    actually, she did and does lobby, she did and does raise funds and she travels and tries to raise awareness. Apparently, she is a pain in the ass of a vast majority here who is quite content to sit on it and do nothing at all. I hope that we will agree that the latter attitude actually is even more ineffective than making a fool of oneself?

  24. One can complain about the efficacy of a hunger strike, but the comments on her motives are unfounded and stupid–she’s been working hard for this cause (and others) for quite a while. Why is any celebrity who tries to use their most valuable asset–their fame–to do good in the world automatically labeled an “attention whore”? This woman should be held up as an example of someone who consistently tries to help, not made fun of with cheap, baseless insults.

  25. @33- No, it’s just as effective, but less self-destructive. In short, there’ll be just as many hungry people when I’m done typing, but Ms. Farrow has merely increased the numbers of hungry people by one.


    I think these snide comments show exactly what’s wrong with actions like these. It draws too much attention to the celebrity and brings an otherwise worthwhile campaign into disrepute. In this case doing nothing might very well have been more beneficial.

  27. Daneyul and IAmInnocent, keep fighting the good fight, I think you’re right.

    Maybe she should start arming the refugees?

  28. Maybe she’ll get the U.N. to pass a resolution that bans genocide. That’ll fix everything right up.

  29. Yeah, because Gandhi’s hunger strike was completely useless too, right? WRONG.

    So what if it’s a white American celeb? At least she’s doing something. 99% of the rest of us are completely useless.

  30. I first read this as “Mia Farrow dies three days into hunger strike” and had to scan the words about four times to see what was actually there.


  31. I don’t want to seem disrespectful here, since we’re talking about a woman’s life and genocide, but I don’t think it’s telling tales outside of school to point out that Ms. Farrow has a fairly long history of mental illness. It could be that she actually believes that Congress is willing to start a third war to save her life, or that some kind of mystical hoobijoob will arise from this and stop things. Or it could simply be a desire to end her story here, but appear as a martyr rather than a coward or a sad, crazy old lady.

    I see this more as an indictment of the sad state of mental health care in our country than anything else.

    I’d also point out that whether or not there’s a God, prayer can be useful if you’ve identified the most effective group to be praying. By which I mean: Baptists in Alabama praying is nice, and thank you, but if you can get some high-profile Muslims to hold prayer vigils to stop the genocide, thereby get the arab world riled up about the situation, *that* actually probably would go a long way towards stopping it.

    A single Mullah saying “Racism is Bad, Allah loves everyone regardless of color” is worth a thousand Southern Baptists saying the same thing, in this case.

    1. A single Mullah saying “Racism is Bad, Allah loves everyone regardless of color”

      Um, you do know that Islam is a worldwide religion embracing vast numbers of Asians and Africans?

  32. Besides being useless and pointless, that sounds like attention-seeking. It’s probably a disservice to the Darfur crisis. An entire book could be written about Hollywood ridiculousness when it comes to “helping” the Third World.

  33. It all depends on your context of doing something.

    I’ve blockaded logging mills, uranium mines, loggers and government department officials in my time.

    I wasn’t front line, but more back doing support. But there at the forests and mining sites at the time.

    Did I save one bit of forest? Probably not. But then again, I don’t know. Some of those forest areas became national parks, some didn’t.

    My flatmate at the time, a 24/7 committed direct action(ist) was blockaded herself (and about 12 others) in a forest by the workers, and basically psychologically tortured for about a week. Went to court and they won a payout. If I wasn’t heavily ill, I would have gone down, and I would have been pretty much scarred for life. Lucky me that the blockades I went to, I didn’t have a 2 by 4 shoved up my arse.

    But what I can say is that I put my life on the line (somewhat) for the saving of forests, species, and the shit we are causing.

    Now …. has ANYONE here gone out to the wilderness that they are slicing into little bits for toilet paper and copy paper? Or, if the environment came up, sat in their armchairs and complained about others being useless?

    Which pretty much sums up a lot of us in the privileged west. Too busy to do something, but building up snark et al. I think that is a waste of energy, if its all that is done.

    Now, to counterpoint, I’ve done NOTHING about Darfur. Nor the other regions of the world where humans have little ability to evolve and get on without resorting to profit of power or money from hurting others.

    Nor homelessness, AIDS, cancer, sexual abuse, keeping the internet free, saving wildlife … etc. There’s only so much you can do on ‘helping’ energy before you don’t have time to sleep.

    BTW burnout rate amongst activists is about 90%, at least once, 50% twice. My stats, no one elses.

  34. I’ll try to get Kirsty Alley to take over the hunger strike. She could go for months! Then I’ll try and get Oprah to buy lunch for the nation of Darfur, and maybe Madonna can take some hungry babies home.

  35. Beyond all the rest — if she dies, or is somehow permanently damaged by her hunger strike, just how effective will she be then? She’s looked like a half-starved waif as long as I can remember — looking a little thinner isn’t going to shock anyone into action, is it?

    Not saying at all that the intent isn’t honorable, but the implementation leaves something to be desired.

  36. For anybody who thinks this is “better than doing nothing”, I suppose you technically have a point, but it’s pretty damn close to doing nothing. Go on a talk show at least, and talk about it. Who the hell watches Mia Farrow’s video blog?

    I honestly feel that if I send $5 to Rwanda, I’ve done more to help them. The idea of “people are suffering, I’ll suffer too” is idiotic. That’s like trying to help the homeless by living on the street.

  37. What BBNinja said. What possible contribution is Mia Farrow making to improving the situation in Darfur by going on a hunger strike, you ask? Well, I don’t know, to be honest, but surely it’s something, which is much more than the net negative contribution that every one of the cynical, snarky, lowest-common-denominator comments about her hunger strike is making.

  38. Man, the negativity of some BBers never ceases to amaze me.

    The argument so far is “Nrrrr, dis is a stupid thing to do, nrrrr, why doesn’t she do something else, nrrrr.”

    Straight from the internet, which you all have access to:

    Farrow has been a high profile advocate for children’s rights, working to raise funds and awareness for children in conflict affected regions, predominantly in Africa. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has worked extensively to draw attention to the fight to eradicate polio, which she survived as a child. She has traveled to Darfur three times to advocate for Darfuri refuges. She traveled there, in November 2004 and June 2006, joining her son Ronan Farrow, who has also worked for UNICEF in Sudan.[9] Farrow visited 2006 Berlin to be part of a charity auction of United Buddy Bears, which feature designs by artists representing 142 U.N. member states[10].

    Her third trip was as part of a documentary film expedition in 2007.[11] Farrow’s photographs of Darfur appeared in People magazine in July 2006 and she authored an article on the crisis, published in the Chicago Tribune on July 25, 2006. On February 5, 2007, Farrow authored an editorial for the Los Angeles Times.[12] On August 7, 2007, Farrow offered to “trade her freedom” for the freedom of a rebel leader, being treated in a UN hospital, but afraid to leave. She wanted to be taken captive in exchange for him being allowed to leave the country.

    Since 2007, Farrow has been involved with the Dream for Darfur campaign, which has made a major effort to focus public attention on China’s support for the government of Sudan, with a special focus on the 2008 Summer Olympics, that was held in Beijing. Swayed by Farrow’s campaign to pressure him, on February 12, 2008 filmmaker Steven Spielberg withdrew as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Olympics broadcast. During the Olympics broadcast, Farrow televised via the internet from a Sudanese refugee camp to highlight China’s involvement in the region.[13]

    Farrow has recently agreed to narrate a documentary film relating the struggle of many of the survivors of the Rwandan Genocide to forgive those who murdered their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children and friends. The documentary, presently in postproduction, is titled: As We Forgive Those.[14]

    Farrow has set up her own website, http://www.miafarrow.org, which features a guide on how to get involved with Darfur activism, along with her photographs and blog entries from Darfur, Chad, and the Central African Republic.

    On April 21, 2009, Farrow announced that she would begin a water-only fast on April 27, to show solidarity with the people of Darfur. Farrow’s spokesman said that she would stick with the fast “as long as possible”, which doctors estimate will be about three weeks.

  39. You don’t think pointing out wasted effort is useful? “Doing something” has zero value in itself other than rationalizing to a soothed conscience, and is often counterproductive, if only by hurting the credibility of otherwise worthwhile causes. Disparaging such criticism as “cheap cynicism” is, believe it or not, also counterproductive. If idealistic young people (or, in this case, venerable actresses) spent half as much time figuring out a) what the world ought to look like, and b) what would be an actually effective means of moving towards that, as they did banging their heads against the wall, the world would be a far better place.

    Note that these are generalized comments. I know very little about Mia Farrow’s activities particularly. I am quite certain that this activity isn’t going to do anything for Darfur, though, and that is literally all that is relevant.

  40. @48
    Before this I didn’t know that Mia Farrow did anything for Darfur.

    Now I do.

    Someone who hears about this might look into what else Farrow is doing, and try to get involved.

    It is ridiculous to say that what she is doing absolutely, without a doubt, has zero value. If it raises awareness and gets the word out, then it has done something.

    Everyone is looking at this from some sort of one-instance, direct efficacy standpoint, as if Farrow’s hunger strike alone is pointless unless she immediately ends the suffering in Darfur.

    Raising awareness through a hunger strike, combined with the rest of her efforts, may well add up to a significant contribution. It may also not. But it is presumptuous and short-sighted to think that her hunger strike will do nothing at all.

  41. No! This is NOT better than doing nothing. This is WORSE than doing nothing.
    Think about it. How much better the world would look, and how much happier the world would be, if there weren’t any fanatical nutcases choosing to be a ‘martyr for the cause’.
    There is only one true cause, and that cause is to make yourself happy. And if you’re succesfull, you may be a shining example of how to make yourself happy. And by example we learn.
    Screwing yourself up, for any reason, is the reverse of that.
    But this is my opinion, and Mia obviously has her own, which I should respect.
    We all have our own challenges.

  42. Now if someone could just get her sister Prudence to come out of her tent. The Beatles couldn’t even do that, and they asked very nicely.

  43. To arms! We must act now! Start a Facebook group and have all your friends join. That will show the Janjaweed! They will be powerless once everyone leaves the Janjaweed Facebook group.

  44. Iaminnocent: You’re right about the snarky comments. It’s like cyper-rage, ugly and unexpected when I come upon it in various threads.

  45. I think her heart is in the right place, and I understand her commitment.

    However, I worry that she’s already so thin, she’s killing herself and it’s not going to solve the issue.

    Secondarily however, if it brings attention to what’s going on in Darfur and gets people to sit up and say “that’s not right”, then she will have made a difference.

    Thirdly however, Mia unfortunately has a reputation of being a bit…how can I say this nicely? Crazy. And that does sort of undermine her credibility.

  46. If I was starving in Darfur and I heard about some rich American white woman who’s starving herself on my behalf, I’d be confused. “Couldn’t she just buy me a samwich?” I’d be thinking.
    BUT, and it’s a big but (get out of here, Kirsty- no one called you) all us knuckleheads are talking about people starving in Darfur. See? That’s what she wanted. It’s working.

  47. Im sorry, but cant the Darfur crisis find a less flawed spokesperson? Mia Farrow is so annoying that this stunt and her self-publicizing may even act as a recruitment tool for the Janjuweed.

  48. I don’t care about anything Mia Farrow has to say. and I don’t care enough… to tell everyone here that I don’t care. That’s how much I don’t care.

  49. Senorglory: And I don’t care enough about your comment to comment about how much I don’t care about it. That’s how much I don’t care. =P

  50. “We want to convince her that if we have somebody else that is famous and that would draw attention, that she should stop.”

    Was there ever a better set-up for a myraid of punchlines?

  51. Destroying your mental and physical help so that you are of no use in the future and might require medical attention yourself is nothing but counterproductive.
    Might as well just pull a Thích Quảng Đức’ to really gain attention

  52. I don’t think she plans on surviving the fast, personally.

    And you know that her death would attract an amazing amount of media attention, conceivably even a biopic, drawing the attention of a much larger group than might have ever been bothered to make themselves aware of the ongoing crisis in Darfur. Think “Gorillas in the Mist”, if you doubt the market for that sort of project; through her vlog, she’s even providing expository footage.

    If you raise the stakes, assume that she doesn’t plan on surviving, her efforts make a great deal of sense.

    All the talk of ‘crazy’: that’s what it takes sometimes. She could be living quite contentedly with her park view, shopping and lunching. I don’t think her commitment is something to mock.

  53. I met Mia Farrow several years ago at a book signing and she was so sweet. However, she was shockingly tiny and fragile. Like porcelain.

    She is definitely in no shape to be fasting for three weeks. (Not that anyone should, obviously.)

    Will this actually bring change to Darfur? BoingBoing is the only site I see discussing it this week!

  54. How do you know that she has not given money. In all do honesty for allof you that are making comments I’m commenting because I have contributed and I am a black hard working man. Stop talking and do something because it could happen to you further down in the future. And I am pretty sure that Mia Farrow has contributed money to this cause.

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