4 January 2005
We're sending our love down a well
It began in 1984 with the godawful caterwauling of "Do They Know It's Christmas," a project by erstwhile Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. Geldof's heart was in the right place, but the actual record, credited to "Band Aid," written by Geldof and Ultravox's Midge Ure, produced by Ure and Trevor Horn, split the difference between naïve and nauseating. "There won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime," indeed.
The most telling thing about the Band Aid project, though, is that it immediately spawned an imitator. "We Are the World", credited to "USA for Africa," managed levels of insipidness Bob Geldof never dreamed of, the result of having assembled an all-star cast and giving them not much to work with although it's a whole lot better than most of Michael Jackson's or Lionel Richie's later material.
So I view the possibility of a Tsunami Relief recording and/or concert with a certain amount of cynicism, though probably not as much as Michele admits to:
Any moment now Bruce Springsteen will hold a press conference, with Bono on one side and Sting on the other. They'll announce a huge show at some vast stadium, maybe two stadiums one in the U.S. and one in the U.K. Bob Geldof will come out of obscurity to smile for the cameras and remind people that he was at the forefront of the pop-star-as-philanthropist movement. Tickets will be $50 and up. There will be t-shirts, water and food for sale at the show, as well as frisbees and beach balls imprinted with the TsunamiAid logo, which will be copyrighted and trademarked and perhaps drawn by a famous artist. The shows will be simulcast on Pay-per-View. The second the concert is over and the now broke fans have gone home, the DVD and CD will be for sale. Millions and millions of dollars will be raised. By the fans of these stars. Yet the stars will get the credit for raising the money.
After all, they're so concerned and this is such an important issue and nobody would realize how important it is if it weren't for them.
And best of all, they get to bask in the glow without having to write big checks of their own:
I think, instead of spending time getting all these people together, renting a studio, writing a song, recording the song, putting the album in stores, waiting for the constant airplay to kick in and, in essence, begging their public to send money to whatever they are singing about why don't they all just reach into their pockets and donate a cool million each? Sondra did it. Leonardo did it. It seems a hell of lot more sensible, logistically and monetarily, to just cut a check and get the money where it's going. But, no. Rather than donate out of their own bank accounts, they'd rather reach out to you you who buys their albums and t-shirts, you who probably has $24 in your bank account at the moment and no gas in your car to put the dollars in the coffer because, hey, they are donating their time, man. They are donating their talents. And that should be enough. Right?
Call me if Sharon Stone puts on a telethon for varicose veins. Until then, I will continue to base my charitable donations on something other than the whims of the entertainment industry.