Belfast Telegraph

Band Aid 2014: I won’t be lectured by patronising rock stars

By Frances Burscough

I’m sorry to spoil the self-satisfied slap on the back that is Band Aid 2014, but I really cannot stand it and what it represents. In fact, I’m amazed not more people share my view as regards the whole Band Aid bandwagon — a desperate attempt to rekindle a few flagging careers in the name of “charity”.

Everybody knows about Ebola and the threat it poses. It’s been in the papers and at the top of the news non-stop for months. Genuine long-established charities such as Oxfam, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Trocaire and the Red Cross have been working around the clock to contain this horrible disease and the rest of us already know that joining their efforts as volunteers or fundraisers or by simply making donations is the best possible way to help them stamp it out.

We really don’t need a group of fame-hungry wannabees or flailing has-beens to lecture us about it. We’re not idiots and we don’t need to be patronised like that. We certainly don’t need lessons on the importance of benevolence by billionaire rock stars who live like kings and think they are gods.

Besides, what kind of a message does it generate to kids if the new notion of charity is simply to buy something that cost a few quid and then you’re off the hook? You get a shiny new CD to add to your collection into the bargain too. Everbody wins!

Ok, so the lyrics of the song may well be offensive, insensitive and condescending to an entire continent:

No peace and joy this Christmas in West Africa

The only hope they’ll have is being alive

Where to comfort is to fear, where to touch is to be scared

How can they know it’s Christmas time at all?

But for every CD sold, someone suffering gets a few pence worth of medicine while a whole studio full of superstars get more than enough attention, kudos and column inches to last until the next worldwide crisis!

Let’s just look at the two most loud-mouthed spokesmen for the whole shebang shall we? Of course, Sir Bob Geldof is there at the forefront, once again hectoring humanity to “send us your f***ing money”. Now, 30 years ago in the days of Live Aid, this did have a certain resonance. It was refreshing and different to hear a household name being so outspoken about world affairs. But there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then. Bob Geldof is now estimated to be worth £32m and that certainly isn’t from royalties of I Don’t Like Mondays. He’s made it from public speaking appearances (talking about world poverty, naturally), from television production companies and other hugely successful business ventures. Luckily for him, as a “nom-dom” who doesn’t reside permanently in the UK, he qualifies for a tax loophole which means that he can legally avoid tax on international earnings as long as he keeps up his globe-hopping lifestyle. And yet he criticises the same governments for their lack of aid?

Hmmm ... and when the question of taxes and hypocrisy was raised earlier this week in a live television interview, he simply answered with an angry tirade of swearing and so the interview (of course) had to be terminated.

The other loud-mouth is Bono, of the one-time super group U2, whose latest album you literally cannot give away. If you recall, last week this global poverty campaigner was in the news again after his private Learjet almost crashed on its way to a dinner in Berlin. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Well, his personal wealth is so great that it makes Geldof’s look like small change. In fact, in 2012 Bono was proclaimed the richest musician on earth after he reportedly made £940m buying and selling shares in Facebook, via his private equity firm. Which begs the question if he really wanted to stamp out the disease then why doesn’t he simply hand over half his billion dollar fortune to the scientists who are working on a cure? And whaddaya know, he too has been accused time after time of avoiding government taxes and when questioned, also gets very irate indeed.

Sorry gentlemen, but I’m not going to be guilt-tripped into contributing towards your self-serving cycle of sanctimony. When I have money, time or effort to give I will do it on my own in the usual way and I certainly won’t want a CD made by patronising fame junkies as a reward.

Belfast Telegraph


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