Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pictures of starving children sell records: Double take!

Like Dennis Perrin, I certainly found the news that some pop music stars were remaking "We Are The World" to be incredibly lazy, though I don't necessarily see it as an indictment on this era's music scene - seriously, was the original version of the song all that creative in the first place? Hell, the original seemed pretty derivative of the sort of crap you might have heard on a Jerry Lewis telethon back in the day. But I digress. This bit, though, I do think pretty well nails it:
It's a feel good moment for celebs and their sucker fish, a "humanitarian" gold star on the resume. Meantime, nothing significant changes. The same power relationships resulting in more death, starvation and disease. Yawn.
Chumbawamba broke it down back much the same way in the mid-1980s with "How to Get Your Band on Television" (from their album Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records):

The lyrics:
Product sells, People die
Same manipulation wrapped in lies
Give a little money and play your rock and roll
The biggest prizes to the biggest fools
In keeping with the fashion for charity, not change
Here's our contribution: we've called it Slag Aid
For every pop star that we slag off today
A million pounds will be given away!
Paul McCarney - Come on Down!
With crocodile tears to irrigate this ground
Make of Ethiopia a fertile paradise
Where everyone sings Beatles songs and buys shares in EMI
Freddie Mercury - This is Your Life!
Thank the Lord that you were born white
And thank apartheid for this wonderful opportunity
To peddle your hypocrisy in Sun City
David Bowie - The Price is Right!
A suitful of compassion and a gobful of shite
Still the voices of those who doubt
Coca-Cola for the peasants to end this drought
Jagger and Richards - Game for a Laugh!
Dancing us down the garden path
To a place where money grows on trees
Where cocaine habits are financed by hunger and disease
Ask the puppet-masters who pull the strings
"Who makes the money when the puppets sing?"
Ask the corporations "Where does the money go?"
Ask the empty bellied children "What are we singing for?"
A Cliff Richard - 3,2,1!
The God who remains when the religion's gone
Cliff, we've got a special surprise for you today
So come closer, step this way
Cliff, you're such an example of moral worth
Such a purist saint come to bless our Earth
That on behalf of our viewers watching telly
And on behalf of the millions with empty bellies
We're donating something special that we're all going to like:
Cliff Richard, we're going to nail you up to a cross tonight!!
I know there must be more
Than giving just a little bit more
When half of this world is so helplessly poor
Starved of a real solution -
Only charity and tradition
And the cycle of hungry children
Will keep on going round...
Note, I've mentioned the celebrity charity CDs/iTunes thing before, back when Darfur was the flavor of the month cause. The celebrities get to look all "sensitive" and "humanitarian", while whatever political and economic forces that have already starved Haitians for ages continue unquestioned and unabated. Someone will pocket a nice profit, thanks to the rubes who go off and buy the CD or mp3s (so they, too, can feel "sensitive" and "humanitarian" - and I'd be willing to wager that the Haitians will see hardly a dime. "And the cycle of hungry children will keep on going round..."

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