Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Reactions to Band Aid Thirty

by Georgina Buckle

So, I’m the lucky Portsmouth Point writer who has been allocated the December 2nd slot. Cue Christmas-themed article…

Getting in the mood for Christmas can be achieved in a variety of different ways, but I’m sure that the one of the most popular methods will be banging out the Christmas tunes. As many of you will know, a cohort of some of our favourite singers recently came together to put a new spin on the festive classic ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ The purpose of this venture was to raise money in aid of fighting the Ebola epidemic spreading across West Africa. Despite its good intention, Band Aid Thirty has received a mixed reaction from celebrities and mere mortals alike.

The majority of the negative response seems to be stemming from some of the alterations made to the lyrics of the song in order to make it more relevant to the Ebola crisis. Writer of the song Bob Geldof claimed that he wanted to capture the nature of the virus’ ability to prevent direct human contact: “A kiss of love can kill you”, and sums up the purpose of the initiative with the line “Tonight we're reaching out and touching you”. The old chorus has also had the chop as “Feed the world” turns into, “Heal the world”, to summarise why we are buying this song again. Now, personally, I didn’t really see much wrong in these alterations and failed to see how anybody could take offence. 

Alas! How wrong I was.

Despite her involvement in the track, Emeli Sandé has publicly apologised for causing offence to anyone. She then went on to say that she thought the track needed re-writing, something that herself and Angelique Kidjo had already done, but unfortunately their alterations didn’t make the final version.

Lily Allen has also said ‘There is something smug about it’. She says that she prefers to do her bit for charity by donating money instead of ‘Being lumped with a bunch of people like that’. I find there’s something quite smug about that, too.

And it seems that it’s not just celebs who are upset by it; Sir Malcolm Bruce, a Scottish Liberal Democrat MP has stated that ‘There is a danger that the appeal is patronising and gives the impression that Africa doesn’t have the capability to do things for itself’. Although I agree that there a faint air of patronization, surely this is drowned out by the good that the song is doing.
The upset about its portrayal of Africa is continued as Fuse ODG, a British-Ghanaian rapper was ‘Shocked and appalled,’ by the lyrics, and is tired of always seeing Africa being portrayed as diseased, infested and poverty stricken, something that is reinforced by the chilling footage at the very start of the video. 

Society has become focused with the negative. We become obsessed with keeping everyone happy, and in this case the argument over the validity of the Band Aid Thirty initiative has overlooked the cause. Let’s hope that the publicity from this at least raised awareness of the Ebola outbreak, and permeated the consciousness of the British public at a time when we are traditionally inward- looking and materialistic.

Perhaps a final quote from Mr Geldof himself would be appropriate for this point. As a journalist said to him, “A lot of people are saying, ‘Look at all the people in that room, a lot of wealthy people. If they all paid their taxes in the right way, we wouldn’t need these kind of fund-raising singles.’ What would you say to that?” 
“I think they’re talking b*ll*cks,” Geldof responded.

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