Saturday, July 02, 2005

I am not going to watch Live8 on TV. I refuse to believe that we should channel our individual influence on our government leaders through Mariah Carey in order to make a difference.

I used to think that the efforts of LiveAid and The Conspiracy of Hope Tour were brave and noble. But while both concerts generated cash for the cause (which the Live8 concerts maddingly do not do) the casual acceptance of torture by the American people post 9-11 illustrates how little real consciencious- raising the Conspiracy of Hope concerts did for the cause of Amnesty International.

What has impressed me and what I will be paying attention to is the BBC's "Africa Lives" campaign. For one week, every BBC channel will be introducing and promoting African culture. For example, right now I'm listening to The Blue Room - BBC's Radio One program dedicated to chillout music - and even they are playing beautiful African music.

Highlighting African culture makes much more sense to me than the flogging the dying careers of Bryan Adams and Tom Cochrane at Live8 Canada. I think we will only truly care more about Africa once we start to truly care about actual Africans - real life people - not just an abstract idea of Africa or a fleeting image of starving crowds on a TV screen.

It's telling that it was only after Live8 organizers received criticism that there were scarce little Africa in their concert schedule, that the African artists only Live8 event at Eden was organized. Incidentally, that's Eden in Cornwall, England - not the Eden of humanity, which one could say, is Africa itself.

Brian Eno said "computers need more Africa in them" but I think we can and must extend this idea to beyond computers. I think we all need more Africa in us and the objects around us and I think I think this because I have positive connotations with Africa - I love African music and I think of the people there have great ingenuity and humanity. If we won't embrace Africa on our own and on a personal basis and instead, only approach Africa's problems through the medium of celebrity, then we won't make any real impact on politicians. This is because politicians are the probably the most cynically aware people on the planet in regards to this truth: a public will be indignant and righteous on of a great number of causes, that is, until they are asked to pay for them. The last time the American public paid for Africa was when they bought their abducted people as slaves.

And don't get me started on SARStock. Do we really need pop culture to make us officially feel better after something bad happens to our community? It's so ironic it's almost tragic: pop culture is one of those monumental forces that keeps us distracted from politics and keeps us perpertually disinterested in the (admittedly) boring life of the community immediately around us. So I guess it makes some sort of sick sense to have the celebrities of the world now step forward on our behalf to save us.

I think we should send our celebrities permanently to Africa. That would be a real change.

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