Monday, December 13, 2004

CHRIS MARTIN ILLUSTRATES POINTS PEOPLE WERE MAKING: On a special edition of the Jonathan Dimbleby Programme (clearly they'd dropped the standards), Chris Martin has had a go at people pointing out the lyrics to Band Aid are a bit patronising and woefully wrong:

"I’ve encountered a lot of cynicism about this Band Aid thing and I think it’s kind of nonsense because to me it’s not about the song or about the words, it is about the images you sometimes see in the videos. But to me it would be no different if a bunch of pop stars were just standing about banging pots and saying we’re interested in this thing that’s going on in Africa."

"It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, we could all be doing a headstand together it’s just a fact that enough people from one culture are coming on TV basically and saying ‘What about this problem?"

"I think, you, people say that song’s rubbish, or the words are rubbish... it’s like if you pass a busker and didn’t give him some money because you thought the song he was playing was terrible but you could see that he was a bit cold.

"You know what I mean. The music doesn’t really matter, not to put a slight on the song that is, it’s got some nice changes, but you know I don’t think anybody did it for musical reasons."

Which just goes to prove exactly why pop stars are the worst possible people to do anything like thinking. Because Martin goes on to make some half-way there, groping in the dark points about simple changes that could be done to help rebalance the world:

"It’s not a mystical thing - it literally takes like ten men to just sit round a table and say ‘Yeah, why don’t we change this law?', or 'Why don’t we lower the tariff barrier on imports from Ghana?' or 'Why don’t we, why don’t we stop sending so much surplus rice to Mexico?’ - this is in the case of America. It's very easy to do. That’s why I’m excited because I feel like if people like me make the right albums and sell enough records, can talk to the right people, you know - it’s exciting."

- so, Chris, you could have used the audience of millions that the Christmas number one gives you to get that message across, but instead, erm, you choose to preach to a couple of thousand already converted at lunchtime on ITV? Do you see what you did there?

More to the point, while it's true that you could have chosen to record, say, Ramalamadingdong and it would have had the same net money raising effect, isn't there something a little bit shortsighted in shrugging and saying "the words aren't important" when millions of people are hearing, over and over, the claims that "nothing ever grows" in Africa and the portrayal of an entire continent as a basketcase with nothing but starving kids from horn to cape? That maybe part of the reason why people are so unconcerned and uninterested in the fate of people in some parts of Africa is because they're not really given the chance to understand the complexity of the continent, and that when someone gets a rare platform where people are prepared to listen to something about the place, those on the platform really don't think what they actually say is any more important than that they're just on the platform.

There's even something in that last bit - "That’s why I’m excited because I feel like if people like me make the right albums and sell enough records, can talk to the right people, you know - it’s exciting" - which implies that Chris would rather not be trying to inspire anyone else anyway; all he wants is their passive assent in driving him onto be the one talking to Presidents and Prime Ministers. You just buy the record, you don't worry your pretty little heads with the thinky bits. Chris and Bono will do that for you.

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