"Naive and stupid" is an expression I generally associate with the totality of Shane Warne's off-field career. But it fits perfectly in describing Bob Geldof's approach to his latest competition entry for the Nobel Peace Prize... namely the Live 8 concerts.
A noble (no pun intended) cause for sure, publicising the issue of third world poverty and timed to coincide with the G8 meeting in Edinburgh. So why has he announced, at short notice, a string of Boring Old Farts rock concerts which sound sadly like Live Aid 1985 revisited.
I have nothing against the original Live Aid. I enjoyed it. I put it all onto VHS tape, complete with titles inserted via software on my Commodore 64. (64K of RAM, one 170K external 5.25 inch floppy drive, no telecomm connection... sigh those were the days!) Mind you, the tapes have long since been chucked out by virtue of old age. And that's what should be done with the Live Aid approach. It's so 1985...
Geldof's myopic vision for Live 8 was borne out when his original guest list was released. (I do look forward to the National Geographic documentary on The Disenbalming of Midge Ure.) No non-white artists, no one from the continent whose children the father of Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Pixie is endeavouring to save.
One can just imagine the reaction at Chateau Geldof:
Oh. Erm. Woops. Let me make a quick phone call........ Of course we'll have African performers at Live 8. Youssou N'dour is going to appear in my concert. In fact, he'll appear in two concerts!
So Youssou N'dour is once more, as he has been for nearly two decades of stadium charity gigs, the Token African Artist.
As a Geldof spokesperson was quoted by the Guardian on June 2 as saying:
"Bob had just three weeks to put it all together, and he went to his address book and rang the people that he knew..."
Lots of questions beg there. And I haven't even started on the silly stunts of sending rowboats over the English Channel to bring protestors to Edinburgh (let me check that map of Great Britain again), or of getting the schoolkiddies of the UK to wag two days of school to wave placards in front of distant barricades miles from the G8 conference.
The danger here is that third world poverty will be deflected into becoming another "cause celebre of the month", which is a fate that seems to have befallen the victims of the December 26 tsunami in the eyes of the West. If Bob Geldof is not careful (and he hasn't shown much care to date), Live 8 will succeed only in trivialising a serious global crisis and adding another line to his annual Nobel Prize nomination CV (which, hopefully, the Nobel Committee will never fall for).
Today's kiddies and MIX-FM jocks seem oblivious to the fact that Geldof's band, the Boomtown Rats, recorded many - and better - songs other than "I Don't Like Mondays". May I commend the song entitled "Elephant's Graveyard"...
A few references for further reading: the Guardian's coverage of the leadup to G8, Geldoffest and all; the G8 Gleneagles website; the UK Make Poverty History website; the Inter Press Service's development news section; and the official Live 8 website.