Thursday, July 19, 2007

Live Earth

I know I'm way behind since the concerts happened almost two weeks ago. I originally wasn't going to comment at all because I don't think it is productive. Rex Murphy wrote an excellent piece that pretty much summarizes how I feel about the Live Earth spectacle. This was found on page A23 of the Globe and Mail on July 14, 2007

Live Earth? How about live irony?

The reviews are in concerning last weekend's eco-sanctimony staged by global warming's Nostradamus, Al Gore, and most of them aren't pretty. It was, according to the advance hype - and the hype for this event matched anything Hollywood roars up for Johnny Depp in a bandana, or a new Jessica Simpson big-screen onslaught - going to command an audience in excess of two billion. There is nothing original in rounding up a beaker full of rock stars and movie celebrities, faded songsters and a rapper or two to variously strum, gyrate and posture for a cause du jour . We have had We Are the World and Live Aid, Willie Nelson doing his minstrel bit for the American farmer, and last year's care-a-polooza, the Make Poverty History jamboree, which didn't.

NBC gave three hours of prime time to last Saturday's effort, which trawled a measly 2.7 million viewers, a number that would be embarrassing for a home-cooking show or a rerun of Three's Company . Not even such class-A world-dominating entertainers as Madonna and Shakira, assisted by those cleavage climatologists, the Pussycat Dolls, could lure the torpid and the unaware, in any numbers, to the home screen. Nor could Snoop Dogg (the bard of Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang ) appearing on stage in Hamburg (Hamburg? Who knew?) jolt the sing-a-long into a zone of even mild and credible buzz.

What happened?

I suppose the spectacle of the world's most wasteful people, rock-star plutocrats with their cribs and bling, caravans of trailer trucks and 100,000-watt amplifiers, taking a day out of their wealth-stuffed lives to preach to the less well off of the world on the moral importance of consuming less "to save the planet" set the hypocrisy bar so high that it put too great a strain on the digestion of ordinary people. "Private jets for climate change," the phrase of one rock star who declined to join the bandwagon, summed up this aspect most wickedly.

Unless outfitted with a cast-iron stomach - and I mean a real one - how could anybody endure Madonna of the Nine Mansions wrapping herself in the ascetics of the eco-movement? Hyper-indulgent, super-pampered, colossally wealthy, manically consumerist entertainment celebrities preaching restraint to others: Live Earth was a weird and monstrous journey to a whole new dimension of live irony.

Come back Uriah Heep: All is forgiven.

Not even the professional environmentalists could stay their gorge at Madonna's participation. They gave the world the news that the Material Girl owns shares in the most politically incorrect enterprises, such as Alcoa, the American aluminum giant, the Ford Motor Company and Weyerhaeuser, which . . . chops trees for money.

Then there was the sheer deep folly of it all. What has Shakira, or her hips, got to offer on the question of the world's weather over the next hundred years? But Shakira is Robert Oppenheimer on steroids compared with Geri Halliwell of the long-forgotten fluff band the Spice Girls - "Yo, I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want etc. etc. etc. etc."

Geri Halliwell, Snoop Dogg, Shakira, Madonna and the Pussycat arborists are an unlikely think tank (maybe a tank top) on global warming or anything else. They are career publicists of themselves, artists in the merchandising of fluff and ego.

But beyond the obvious hypocrisy, beyond the saccharine Mickey Rooney "let's put on a show" conceit of the Live Earth dud-spectacular, I think something rather deeper and, perhaps grimly encouraging, accounts for its failure.

The public has just gotten tired of "stars." These luminescent bodies are now in much the same leaky boat as most politicians, because, in so many ways, stars themselves, by trying to wed some aspects of politics to strengthen or underwrite their highly capitalist careers, are seen as manipulative in precisely the same cynical way politicians are. Entertainers are, primarily, politicians of their own careers.

They don't have the cred they used to have. They have been exposed as shills for themselves, before anything else. And so it's not the elephantine "carbon footprint" of Madonna or the big bands that turned people away from Live Earth.

It's the growing perception that the strutting icons up there on all those stages are playing a game just as the politicians play a game, and for very much the same self-serving, egotistic reasons.

It's an Animal Farm moment for our time. "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

Now it's: Which are the stars and which the politicians? Madonna and Gore - can you spot the difference?

I couldn't agree more Rex...

No comments: