Monday, November 15, 2004

you may say I'm a cynic, but I'm not the only one

... a quick round-up of some alternative views of BandAid 2004

20 years ago perhaps we could get away with a naive belief that the 'hey kids, let's put on a show!' approach could do anything about solving world poverty. Well, I could get away with it at least, cos hey I was 17 and didn't know any better. But in the last 20 years I've learned some stuff. Including that whatever St Bob of Geldof says, it's not about the money. Not about the money raised for charidee, at any rate. If current patterns of world trade and global inequalities remain, no amount of charidee records will stop millions starving.

And even 20 years ago, I wasn't completely naive. A short list of things that annoyed me about the original BandAid/LiveAid:

1 - David Bowie complaining that 'the government' wasn't giving enough money to famine relief. Scuse me Mr David 'lives abroad in tax exile' Bowie, where exactly do you think the government's going to get some money from to do owt about owt?

2 - the picture created of all Ethiopians, all Africans, as helpless starving victims. The first time I met someone from Ethiopia, the year after LiveAid, I was genuinely surprised to meeting a non-starving Ethiopian. (It's a little publicised fact that more money now flows into the developing world from the remittances of migrant workers, than from foreign aid).

3 - Bono's famous 'tonight thank god it's them instead of you' line always disturbed me. Of course I am profoundly grateful that it's not me, but I don't want it not to be me at the expense of 'them'.

Letter in Observer Music Monthly from Bert Erikten Cate
Leaving aside the artistic qualities of such a project, I wonder why these artists are so keen to lend their voices. Is it because they care about Africa, or about their own image? If they really cared, surely they could have found the words and a tune to vent their anger about the inequality in the world.

Piece on the Guardian's newsblog by Jon Dennis
Yes, yes, yes, we all know it's a good cause. Dur. But why should we be so grateful to these millionaires for their precious time? They could just donate a large chunk of their not-so-hard-earned cash if they care so passionately about it. Just a suggestion.

From the Chumbas (who released the 'Pictures of Starving Children..' album in 1986)
... the song remains the same: carefully scripted emotion, tears instead of anger and no explanations of why the world is in a permanent crisis. Twenty years ago Band Aid reflected a peculiar brand of ignorance; Africa was portrayed as being at the mercy of the weather. We had video shots of fly blown children, dry water holes and popstars arriving at recording studios. Anything else like the West''s over consumption, the way that free trade exploits, collusion with military dictatorships and corrupt governments on all sides was probably deemed too complex. Twenty years on we have a better understanding of what 'free trade' actually means in terms of diverting resources like land away from food production and towards goods that are shipped and consumed in the West, we know about the deals that go on behind the scenes, we even know that Western governments fund terror, after all the C.I.A. trained, threw cash at and aided and abetted Bin Laden in Afghanistan. We can do without returning to an age where we pretended popstars can solve famine by fighting over who sings the chorus.

Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records

And no, the irony of a diet blogger, blogging about starving children isn't lost on me.


Trinity said...

Ditch the God bit for a start...'what's God got to do with it. Its a second hand emotion'
How about 'Tonight thank Fuck it's them , get another round in Bono?'

I dunno...see thing is if no-one does anything then nothing will be done. But you are of course right as usual. And yes I am on Drucks.

Trinity said...

Bandaid is a rather good plaster incidentally

M@rla said...

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." -Dom Heider Camara

Jude said...

Anything with The Thom and The Will is good.