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  1. #1
    Eruption Bassman's Avatar
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    04.12.16 @ 04:42 PM
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    Default MTV and the "Live 8" Debacle

    An article sent to me recently:


    In the little broadcast time allotted to the concert between the Burger King commercials and self-promoting MTV ads, viewers were bombarded with the message that this event was not about charity—it was meant to “raise awareness” about African poverty and to pressure participants of the upcoming G-8 meeting to alleviate the problem by erasing African debt and approving billions more dollars in African aid.

    The VJs and concert organizers repeatedly emphasized that they were not asking “for a penny” from anyone. Instead of our own money, they were seeking to dip into the giant pool of cash that our governments apparently collect from money trees.

    The VJs incessantly parroted the statistics rattled off by the day’s performers: An African dies every three seconds from poverty-related illnesses. Some 30,000 Africans die everyday. A VJ articulated the problem with characteristic eloquence for the show’s discerning viewers: “It’s amazing, but you know what? Thirty-thousand people in Africa die every day from poverty and preventable diseases like tuberculosis and malaria. The crappy thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way. The wicked awesome thing is that you can help just by going to MTVnews.com and learning more.”

    The New York Times, however, found the statistics somewhat less than wicked awesome, reporting that “[s]ome of the stars seemed unsure of the statistics they were citing—in London, performers could not agree whether 50,000 Africans die of poverty every day, or just 20,000—but the sentiment was there.”

    And, indeed, what difference do 30,000 dead Africans a day make when you have sentiment? Pop stars traveled to nine different cities across four continents to spread the gospel of human compassion and unity. The pop-punk trio Green Day made its unique contribution to international harmony by playing a rousing rendition of its hit song “American Idiot.” The lead singer, Billy Joe Armstrong, was decked out in the bizarre trappings of a black, button-down shirt and tie, thick armbands and heavy black mascara that gave the appearance of a psychotic Hitler Youth acolyte. (Playing the Berlin concert, his repeated screams of “Deutschland!” at the bewildered crowd enhanced his strange Gothic-Nazi image that seemed slightly at odds with the day’s altruistic theme.)

    Back in Philadelphia, rapper Kanye West offered a glimpse of the gentle humanism and deep-seated realism that underlay the day’s festivities when he related that “the concept of AIDS alone—what my parents always told me, who are activists—is that it was a man-made disease in the first place that was placed in Africa just like how crack was placed in the black community to break up the Black Panther Party.” The interview ended shortly after that statement, probably because West was running late for his rendezvous with a flying saucer.

    The audience was treated to appeals and performances from other philosopher-kings as well. Will Smith, the virtuoso composer of “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It,” explained the concert’s purpose to the crowd: “Today, we are calling on the eight most powerful world leaders to do what they can to end this daily tragedy. With the stroke of a pen, eight men can make a world of difference in the lives of billions of people.” His comments were echoed by singer Dave Matthews, who told an interviewer that stopping the spread of AIDS and malaria and ending poverty in Africa “is effortless. It’s eight signatures, really.”

    This was the day’s main message—that the G8 can wave a magical pen and instantly end Africa’s pathologies. All that’s required, we were told, is public pressure to force eight leaders to do the right thing. African poverty was continually blamed on the continent’s debt ($40 billion of which was written off even before the Live 8), inadequate levels of foreign aid and unfair trading policies, while the G-8 was blasted for refusing to immediately rectify Africa’s plight. This was as sophisticated as the analysis got. One of the online “petitions” to the G-8 that viewers were repeatedly asked to sign did not say anything other than: “Ask the G-8 leaders to help make poverty history”—although potential signatories were enticingly reminded that if they signed, “your name may appear on the big screen at Live 8 concerts.”

    Of course, there remains the question of the extent to which giving Africa another pile of cash and better trading opportunities will help the average African who is suffering under a corrupt, authoritarian government that exploits the country’s resources and foreign aid for its own purposes. The pop star Bono, who was a leading organizer of Live 8 and who is an energetic activist for ending African poverty, was recently asked this question point blank by Tim Russert on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Peering through wraparound sunglasses apparently needed indoors to counteract the camera’s single lightbulb, Bono acknowledged that “[t]his is the No.1 problem facing Africa—corruption. Not natural calamity, not the AIDS virus. This is the No.1 issue and there’s no way around it.”

    Interestingly, neither the performers, nor the organizers, nor the VJs at Live 8 seemed comfortable discussing this aspect of the problem. In fact, over the course of an eight-hour TV broadcast featuring relentless hectoring about Western responsibility for African poverty and mini-documentaries describing the sources and extent of African misery, African state corruption was not mentioned a single time by anyone. Thus a mammoth series of concerts specifically designed to “raise awareness” about African poverty neglected to mention what one of the concerts’ chief organizers and pop music’s most outspoken anti-poverty activist admits is “the No.1 problem facing Africa.”

    Root Cause

    Now why wouldn’t anyone want to mention the root cause? Here’s a guess: Because if Westerners are told that people in Zimbabwe are suffering because we don’t give them enough money, then we can act immediately by pressuring our own governments to increase aid. But if they’re poor because Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is a corrupt, brutal, murderous thug who wrecked his own country’s economy through the massive dispossession of farmers and through an “urban renewal” project that has left a quarter million people homeless, then the options for action are limited, as Mugabe is unlikely to stop pillaging at the behest of Western rock stars.

    So instead of leaning on Mugabe, we’re told to pressure our own leaders. Hey, they may not be able to actually solve the problem, but unlike Mugabe, at least they’ll listen, and then we can feel good about our own activism. And besides, the proposition that the Western world can fix the problem of African poverty with a few signatures, but has heretofore simply declined to do so, helps perpetuate notions of Western guilt on which international activists typically thrive. Singer Alicia Keys encapsulated this sentiment in her on-stage remarks: “Personally, I’m ashamed that we helped to create a world where people suffer and are not allowed to have their basic rights.”

    So around 10 years from now, when pop-star activists suddenly realize that Africa is still mired in poverty despite the cancellation of African debt and even further increases in foreign aid, we will see the inevitable Live 8 sequel that once again holds Western governments accountable for Africa’s problems. At that point, let’s hope everyone takes inspiration from the anthem sung at Live 8 by the aging hipsters of The Who: “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

    Mr. Langer is a PhD candidate in Russian history at Duke University. He can be reached at jlan@duke.edu.
    "..Stare at disbelief at me when I just up and walk...., OUTTA LOVE!"--DLR, Outta Love Again

  2. #2
    Baluchitherium sisca's Avatar
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    06.12.16 @ 07:51 PM
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    We have our own problems here in America. That's what we need to concentrate on.
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  3. #3
    Eruption KleeHee's Avatar
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    10.14.16 @ 08:38 PM
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    Awesome.

    I wonder what all these "activists" would have to say if Western leaders were to actually do something to help the people of Africa. Like forcefully removing their corrupt government leaders/dictators?
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    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    03.07.10 @ 06:18 AM
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    It was early in the broadcast (roughly 14 minutes in) when I heard the esteemed Kayne West's comments, and mentioned them in the "Live 8" thread.

    At the time, and until now, the only person to acknowledge this "mis-informed, backward thinking, blame it on the white man" bullshit was Redrockinmonkeyboy, and we both turned the show off.

    Welcome to the white man's burden, 2005? No.

    Inherrant responsibility is the thrust here folks. Applying pressure to the African government was what world leaders were doing in the first place through sanctions, yet global experts like Bob Geldof seem to have overlooked this policy, responding with jingoistic and unrealistic expectations, vaguely "hippie-like" in nature.

    And hippies were basically uninformed idiots to begin with, going to school on mom and dad's hard earned dollars and turning around and saying "Fuck You" to the very society that made their spoiled, rich kid existance possible.

    The more things change...

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  5. #5
    Atomic Punk ziggysmalls's Avatar
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    12.15.17 @ 08:09 AM
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    I also read that the amount of aid that has been given to Africa was something like 4 times the amount for the Marshall Plan. However Europe was able to rebuild their society and paid their debt back in full.

    I feel sorry for the people over there but there are people in need over here too.

  6. #6
    Eruption Bassman's Avatar
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    04.12.16 @ 04:42 PM
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    My bad, I didn't know there was already a "Live 8" thread. I looked for one, but of course didn't use the "search" function.
    "..Stare at disbelief at me when I just up and walk...., OUTTA LOVE!"--DLR, Outta Love Again

  7. #7
    Hot sauce on everything Red's Avatar
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    12.06.17 @ 06:36 AM
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    It's all Waylon Jennings' fault for walking out on the recording sessions for "We Are The World". Too much BS, I suppose.

    I had a neighbor nearly twenty years ago who spent a year somewhere in Africa with the US Army's Special Forces, literally teaching the people to grow food and dig wells, etc., (and also the occasional unofficial skirmish with the local thug types), and his synopsis was basically, "they're too stupid or scared to go where the food is, and their leaders are too corrupt to give a shit about their own people."

    My take is, it's wrong to let the political realities keep us from being willing to help the people, but it is also wrong to give blindly to regimes who simply will not do the right thing for their children. Which means I have no idea what the answer is, other than to pray that the hearts of those in power will change. And perhaps also we could send in the paratroopers....

    It just sad, really.

  8. #8
    Sinner's Swing! twonabomber's Avatar
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    12.08.16 @ 03:21 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziggysmalls
    I feel sorry for the people over there but there are people in need over here too.
    exactly. as i said during the USA For Africa thing, "feed ours first."

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziggysmalls
    I also read that the amount of aid that has been given to Africa was something like 4 times the amount for the Marshall Plan. However Europe was able to rebuild their society and paid their debt back in full.

    I feel sorry for the people over there but there are people in need over here too.
    Good point. Europe/Japan was able to rebuild because they have all three factors of production: land (resources) - or at least had access to it aka. Japan, labor (people to work), and capital (money and machinery). You might also throw in entrepreneurship.

    As far as I know, Sub-Sahara Africa has never had all of these factors of production that would allow them to move up to an industrial based economy. At least not in the same place where a local group or nation could take advantage of it. Sub-Saharan Africa will never be a modern, westernized continent. Its economic really. Unfortunately, all the Live 8's and debt relief in the world is not going to change this.

    Perhaps someone who knows more about Africa can enlighten me on the viabilility of African economic growth.

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    Atomic Punk
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    05.31.14 @ 08:17 PM
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    My biggest problem with Live 8 is that they should have raised some money along with awareness. UNICEF could always use some extra cash. It was a wasted oppertunity to do measurable good. I understand the debt relief but I also understand the value of the basics like clean drinking water and food.

    I'm glad I didn't watch it.
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    Atomic Punk ziggysmalls's Avatar
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    12.15.17 @ 08:09 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit of 76
    Good point. Europe/Japan was able to rebuild because they have all three factors of production: land (resources) - or at least had access to it aka. Japan, labor (people to work), and capital (money and machinery). You might also throw in entrepreneurship.

    As far as I know, Sub-Sahara Africa has never had all of these factors of production that would allow them to move up to an industrial based economy. At least not in the same place where a local group or nation could take advantage of it. Sub-Saharan Africa will never be a modern, westernized continent. Its economic really. Unfortunately, all the Live 8's and debt relief in the world is not going to change this.

    Perhaps someone who knows more about Africa can enlighten me on the viabilility of African economic growth.

    Sam Kinison (for those who remember him) had something about starving people in Africa.

    This is not verbatim but it went something like this.

    You know why you are starving? Its because you live in a fuc$ing desert? You see this stuff? Its called sand. Nothing grows in it and nothing grows in the fu(king desert.

    However its true. No matter how much money is sent over there, there will never be enough food. Granted its only one part of Africa however if we did not have the Hoover dam, the southwest would not have the population that he has today. The reason is that nothing grows in the fu(king desert.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axxman300
    My biggest problem with Live 8 is that they should have raised some money along with awareness. UNICEF could always use some extra cash. It was a wasted oppertunity to do measurable good. I understand the debt relief but I also understand the value of the basics like clean drinking water and food.

    I'm glad I didn't watch it.
    Heck, tons of the original Live Aid money was wasted as warlords let food rot on African docks...
    Can't stop...addicted to the shindig...

  14. #14
    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziggysmalls
    Sam Kinison (for those who remember him) had something about starving people in Africa.

    This is not verbatim but it went something like this.

    You know why you are starving? Its because you live in a fuc$ing desert? You see this stuff? Its called sand. Nothing grows in it and nothing grows in the fu(king desert.
    .

    Yeah, Sam said we don't need to send money, we should send luggage so they could move where the food is.

    Yet after seeing some of those emaciated people, with absolutely no strength left, it's no longer funny.
    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
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    The Joker BradS's Avatar
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    It was an excellent show...well, after they aired it uninterrupted by commentary. They didn’t try to raise money because a lot of the money raised last time (Live Aid) was abused. Right or wrong, it doesn’t really matter, I got to see some great live acts and I went to the website and signed the petition to help pressure the world leaders.

 

 

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