Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Celebrity Activism:
Did Live8 Concerts Really Help, or did they do more Harm than Good?

Interesting article in this morning's Independent (UK) that examines the problems with global poverty relief organizations relying on Western celebrities as spokespersons for the Developing World:

Do stars really aid the cause?
By Stuart Hodkinson,
The Independent (London)

...You bought the wristband, went to the concert, joined the march and rejoiced when a deal was struck to save Africa. But don't be fooled - nothing has changed...

* * * * *

... The [Make Poverty History] coalition's anger has intensified over revelations about Live8's paternalistic treatment of African campaigners and their relationship to corporations operating on the continent. Firoze Manji, the co-director of Fahamu, an African social justice network and a member of G-Cap, recounts how the African coalition had planned a concert in Johannesburg in early July to be
held in one of the townships. According to Manji, a meeting of Oxfam GB, Curtis, Geldof and Kumi Naidoo cancelled it in favour of Live8...


Do Westerners, even people like Bono and Bob Geldof, deserve to be treated like the champions of the GLOBAL poverty relief? Are they helping or hurting?


Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

I personally think it is nowhere near the help it should be. I know one shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth but as with those rock the vote concerts that took place prior to the election I think they are more of a publicity thing and a “pat ourselves on the back” venue for celebrities. If they want to raise awareness and raise money just give a killer concert and donate the money to the people that know how to get things done.

Sean Penn for instance I can deal with as not only does he put his money where his mouth is he puts himself there and with very little publicity surrounding it.

Anonymous said...

I don't think any level of awareness hurts. Some question the methodology in the wake of the little that has changed thus far, but it's short-sighted to think that a concert series will actually make millions of people do something on a grand scale.

Donations are up in the wake of the concerts, with much money having been raised that otherwise would not be there. Of the millions who attended/tuned in, if even 10% of those were affected by the message, and are more aware of the issues than they previously were, a major difference has been made. Those expecting to see immediate change need to have their heads examined, though - nothing changes overnight, and this is an issue that will realistically take decades, perhaps a century, to overcome. The best people can do, in the presence of layer upon layer of beaurocracy and red tape, is to raise awareness and donate to the organizations that are making a difference by fighting AIDS, building schools, and putting food in people's mouths. More people are doing that today than before Live8. A difference, a very important one, was made, which is what matters most.

zydeco fish said...

Some of the acts I saw really hurt my ears...

I think awareness is a good thing.

pia said...

Live Aid was amazing and very helpful, but the world's changed a lot in the past 20 years.

It's our responsiblity to teach people and nations to be self sufficent

Truthfully Live 8 was so bad I couldn't imagine it helping. But between 9/11, Katrina, the tsunami and much else I think we have become a much more aware society

I hope so

But I will never forget Mick Jagger and Tina Turner dancing, and a young, uh, more zaftig Madonna singing. Didn't need Phil Collins flying from country to country but...

The ZenFo Pro said...

Yeah, I'm in total agreement that there is nowhere near the support there should be for causes like debt relief. And I too wonder how much of things like Live 8, while meant to raise awareness, could've done so much more had it not been so full of itself...

I think raising awareness is awesome. The thing that sort of got my goat is the fact that Geldof and Co. had the balls to pull the plug a locally produced concert to better promote their efforts. It comes across as "We're the big Western powerhouses and you African Yokels don't know how to do these kinds of things." Relief to developing nations, to me, means not just giving them a handout but working with their people to build a better world.

Organizations like Oxfam end up coming across as merely charities driven by guilt over colonialization. I mean, wasn't it the European superpowers who carved up Africa like a turkey and created many of the root problems behind all of the problems? Same holds true for during the Cold War.

I agree that more awareness has been raised and the checks rolling in are nice. And it will take decades. But it can't become Big Bad White Rock Star Charities Fix the World, either. The push must be real -- collaboration and sustainable partnerships in e-commerce, business, agriculture, and fostering free societies.

Yeah, a lot of the acts sorta reminded me of those Woodstock revival concerts that sprang up a few years ago. What the hell did Limp Bizkit have in common with Country Joe McDonald?

Yeah, huge difference between the first Live Aid and the last incarnation, definitely. And self-sufficiency is the key, economically, politically, and culturally. I think a big difference between the first series and the most recent comes from the fact that we have moved into this era of "Image is More Important than Substance." Community angst, protests, political movements, social rebellion, and even global awareness are all packaged, marketed, and branded. Its Free-for-All Capitalism, minus the pesky ethics stuff.