Posts Tagged Bono

Turmoil in Tripoli

Turmoil in Tripoli

Looking at the recent pictures of the “rebels” rampaging through the Libyan capital, I can only fear how far this is going to go before Western leaders finally see that they have played no insignificant part in yet another regional destabiliation exercise. It is as if they want to see yet more bloodshed and boats making their way across the Mediterranean. There is far too much concentration on the here and now, and little consideration for what may lie around the corner: the dreamers still believe that the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi will result in some fledgling democracy, the culmination of what has been dubbed the “Arab Spring”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Do I feel guilty? Nah. It’s for charidee…

Do I feel guilty? Nah. It's for charidee...

I have often been irked by the mix of celebrity and charity, a concoction that more often throws up a barrel load of contradiction, hypocrisy and – when one does all of the maths – some very odd-looking figures.

Turn the pages of any popular tabloid or magazine and you will see almost wall to wall “celebrities” – from those who have truly earned their status through to the Z-list oxygen thieves who are only there on account of an act of idiocy in the Big Brother house or some media sound bites from Max Clifford.

Many of these people would have been photographed at some sort of event organised by some charitable foundation. Cheryl Cole at a dinner hosted by the National Toilet Cleaners’ Assistance Fund. John Terry bungee-jumping at an event hosted by Relate. That sort of thing. You book a table at some event it costs millions to arrange, wolf down a tiny portion of pretentious nosh and quaff a litre of overpriced bubbly, for the the purpose of paying a thousand pounds to spend the day with Rebecca Loos in a pig pen. The thousand pounds is, of course, sent to some well-meaning charitable organisation dedicated to alleviating the suffering of children in some country your average celebrity would not be able to locate on a well-marked map.

For some people, buying a day out with some Z-list moron may make them feel better about themselves – if only for the fact that it goes part of the way to assauging the guilt in attending such a lavish and ostentatious shindig. If they were to do the calculations themselves, they’d probably work out that the charity would have benefitted more if everyone had just stayed home.

Following the recent earthquake disaster in Haiti, many people were moved to open their chequebooks and help – and good on them for doing so. Meanwhile, the celebrity set were gearing up for yet another meaningless charity concert. Champions of this sort of nonsense will undoubtedly say that this elaborate get-together of the world’s most meaningful (read: meaningless) would have helped to raise millions for a good cause, but the organisers always fail to disclose how much it would have cost to organise the gathering in the first place. The costs for hiring the venue. Shipping across the equipment. Ferrying across the celebrities themselves as well as their minders, advisors, lawyers and hangers-on. The cost of shifting all of their environmentally-friendly microbiotic food. The cost to hire the staff to look after and oversee the whole thing.

The truth is that while the charity may have received the money from the tickets (less all of the money skimmed off by various concerned parties) the money spent by a dozen genuinely well-meaning people would have hardly covered the budget for the transport of just one of Mariah Carey’s accessory chihuahuas.

Then there is the matter of the collective carbon footprint.

Carbon Footprint. Grr. The more times I hear that otherwise harmless combination of very ordinary words, the more I want to punch the wall. Forgetting the fact that the concept itself may be completely flawed – that’s one for another blog on another day – it’s the people who keep parrotting it that are central to my annoyance. Clowns like Bono, who lecture us all about how much toilet paper we should use while at the same time jetting himself and his entourage around the world; do-gooder politicians like Al Gore, who has promoted a film informing all of plebs about the dangers of global warming whilst running a massive house that consumes more energy in a month than the average American household uses in a month. Then we have the likes of my old friend Tony Blair, who is paid stupid amounts for flitting about to read from crib cards to large audiences of sycophants – on subjects he knows sweet bugger all about.

The only reason these people have attached themselves to this nonsense is beause it is the “right on” thing to do – talking about your carbon footprint is fashionable, it’s the thing to do. As is adopting a third-world baby and driving a Toyota Prius while keeping the gas-guzzling Hummer safely tucked away in the garage just in case the greenmobile develops a problem with the accelerator pedal. Or something.

We have the likes of Sting’s wife Trudie Styler preaching about enviromental horrors – both real and vividly imagined – while at the same time ordering her chef to do a hundred-mile trip to prepare some soup, and other wannabe eco-cranks telling us ordinary people off for taking foreign holidays whilst racking up thousands of first class air miles. People like former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, whose pledge to fly the green flag was wonderfully offset by his sojourns to Venezuela to meet his mate Hugo Chávez – all at the public’s expense. As the old and rather well-worn adage goes, you can’t make it up.

So there we have it. We either get the elaborate and often stupidly expensive shindig dressed up as a charitable event, or the same people preaching one thing and doing another. I really have to wonder what motivates these people – is it a genuine belief in improving the lot of those less fortunate than themselves or simply a way of offsetting the guilt accrued by their living a life of excess? Have a party, invite the great and good, have a good time – fantastic. Call it a charity event – even better, for we can all feel better about it when we wake up the next morning with the inevitable hangover. Yeah, I spent thousands and feel like shit – but it was for charidee, so I don’t need to feel so bad about it.

Meanwhile, the poor are still starving in Africa and elsewhere, and have been doing so for the best part of sixty years. Rather than bid in some pointless celebrity auction in the vain hope that my money reaches some child in Zimbabwe whose parents cannot afford his or her school fees, I’d rather give the money to some mercenary and have him put it bullet between Bob Mugabe’s eyes.

The nature of the mix of celebrity and charity was best summed up when I saw Kate Moss in some campaign for Make Poverty History – oblivious to the fact that the white powder she enjoys stuffing up her snout is responsible for a criminal trade that is the cause of much poverty and deprivation Latin America. Of course, I wouldn’t expect someone like Moss – who has less intelligence that a blancmange – to get the irony. To her, it was just one more “cool” thing to do, right up and including the wearing of the white wristband which soon became little more than a fashion accessory for the indolent and their feckless armies of hangers-on.

Charity not only begins at home, it can be best organised from home as well.

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