I’m all for supporting a good cause and raising awareness of important issues (and this issue is important), but the concert series really seems to be brushing aside the point of the thing. Supposedly all these pop stars are banding together to call attention to the plight of impoverished peoples around the world prior to the G8 conference happening next week in Scotland, but they’re mainly calling attention to themselves. This is just another chance for ego-inflated celebrities to foist their opinions on the public, to regurgitate spoon-sized canned sentiments and pretend they care while at the same time promoting their overpriced albums.
Witness Madonna breathily warbling her Pepsi anthem while trotting a dazed and misplaced Birhan Woldu around the stage in front of swirling Kabbalist CGI. In 1984, Woldu was immortalized as the “Face of Famine,” a little girl who was narrowly rescued from starvation and is today a healthy and beautiful young woman. She is alive today because she and her family recieved charitable aid from other concerned nations 20 years ago. She was brought onstage as a moving testament to the impact foreign aid can have on a single precious life, and was then was quickly reduced to a PR photo-op.
But mostly I’m sickened by ABC television’s pathetic coverage. Their brief highlight program rearranged the playing order to maximize broad appeal to the American audience and was riddled with commercial breaks, usually cutting short the performances to make more time to cram in advertising. And Pink Floyd — with Dave Gilmour reuniting with Roger Waters for the first time since their messy breakup over 20 years ago, easily the most momentous high point of the entire concert and the only reason I watched at all — was insultingly sandwiched between Will Smith and Madonna, only warranting about five and a half minutes of airtime. They got most of the way through Money (one of only four songs they performed) before the network cut away to a paid advertisement for an over-the-counter allergy medicine. Paul McCartney’s closing performance was at least in the proper slot, but afterwards Bob Geldof’s parting remarks were pre-empted for an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Way to suck, ABC.
When all is said and done, these concerts will not likely change the course of history. The screaming crowds of fist-pumping complacent youth will go home and sleep off their buzz and go right back to the comfort of indifference in the morning. World politicians will still blindly act in the best interests of their own
companies . Millions were spent on throwing these ego-stroking spectacles, ostensibly with the goal of asking the world powers to contribute millions in assistance to suffering nations. Is that hypocrisy I smell?