Tuesday, October 17, 2006

In Defence Of: The Live 8 Movement

Today my favourite blogger (yes, geeky I know) posted a scathing, and really quite horrific, attack on the whole Live 8 movement. Some of you, I know, will agree with him. But i'm about to get very angry in disagreeing with his usually excellent ramblings, so first it might (I say might, I mean will) be beneficial if you go read his post on the matter. His name is Mr. Biffo, and his blog is http://www.biffovision.blogspot.com/

Done? Good, then I'll start at the start. Live 8 only made $5 million profit for charity, you say? Well what's your point, guy? Around the time, dear old Geldof was saying that any profit made off the text lines would then go to charity, not all our lucrative profits will go to them. From the start we knew that our texts were primarily to fund a show and a movement we believed in. And if you didn't believe in it? Then don't text Clive.

Also, as we were told countless times on the day itself, "we don't want your money, we want you". Live 8 was never about money, it was about getting the political opinion of as big a percentage of the population to change, and support something, as possible.

I admire Geldof, and I'll tell you why. He sees something that desperately needs help, and he's willing to go to lengths nobody else would bother with to see it happen. Some of the things he had the downright cheek to do in setting up the original Live Aid were brilliant: eg. Announcing the full list of participating acts to the media when half of them had only tentatively expressed interest. Richard Curtis had a go at him, he replies "well they'll bloody have to play now, won't they?" Brilliant. Brilliant because: the ends justified the means.

I think you should feel free to question his methods, but it takes a particularly soulless person to question his motives.

"there are far bigger issues facing the planet, and our species". Excuse me? I object to (a) the use of plural, and (b) the use of the the word 'far' in that sentence. I can think of one issue that could, subjectively, be seen as a bigger issue here, obviously Climate Change. Now I believe that's something to worry about as well, but what is it about us that we only care about a death if it's in our own back garden?

What has Live 8 achieved? Apart from you know, increasing aid to third world countries, reducing the debts they pay, and breaking down some of the trade barriers that they face? Okay, how about changing the psyche of the populations of the world's richest countries. For one short spell in July last year, everybody gave a damn about someone in a different continent to them. The possibility that some people are too selfish/short attention-spanned to still care is a fault that can hardly be dumped at Geldof, Bono et all's door is it?

A free concert (correction: nine free concerts) staring all the major names of the time is the perfect way to run the campaign. And selling the tickets at the profit maximising point wouldn't have exactly been in the spirit of the day, would it? That would've garnered a whole raft of other criticisms. Plus, it would've got less people involved in the movement. Plus, as I said earlier, it wasn't about the money was it?

Give a man a fish, and he'll feed himself for a day. Teach him to fish, provide aid so he can get himself a rod, drop trade barriers so he can sell some of the slippery buggers, and give him hope that people actually give a damn about his plight, and he'll be in a lurid, fishy heaven feeding and earning money for his family for years.

This is where my friend Biffo really shoots wide of the mark: saying that it's "such an obvious, and simplistic view of the world to think you're going to improve it by putting a bit of pressure on world leaders to cut debt. It isn't going to happen. And hasn't happened, in fact. Countries are corporations - not charities. And corporations don't do anything unless there's a way for them to make more money." No no no no NO. Countries are neither corporations or charities, they are democracies. A Government in a democracy will do the will of its population to stay in power. This is why the theory behind Live 8 worked so well: it was about getting everybody to stand up, and tell their own leaders that this is what they want to see happen.

You can't just throw money at the problem, it needed a change in policy, and that could only come from those leaders, seeing that that is what people wanted.

To be a rock-star (or I suppose, any celebrity), you've probably got to have a massive ego. But if they are going to use their energy to do good things in the world, then good for them. Because what have you done? Gotten up off your arse to try and change the opinion of 2 billion odd people? Or sat down and tried to pick holes in it? You call it self-obsessed fame hunger, I call it trying to be that person that made the difference that changed everything. And God bless the person that does.

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