Today’s subject is a man who many people admire and think is an all round good guy. Yes he looks like a tramp, or some sort of hippy protestor who has spent several days down a hole outside Manchester Airport, but people seem to have this amazing passion toward everything he does and see him as some sort of 21st Century Jesus Christ – not me!!
Bob Geldof’s emergence to fame came in the 1970s as front man of the Irish punk rock band The Boomtown Rats. The band were reasonably successful in the UK with five top ten hits including.two numbers ones, but in real terms I guess they can be rated as average at best. As the years went by their chart success dwindled and Geldof eventually quit the band in 1986.
Before this, in 1981, Geldof took part in a charity event for Amnesty International. He performed The Boomtown Rats’ biggest hit “I Don’t Like Mondays” and got to meet the likes of Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Sting along the way. The show was a success and is credited as the idea behind The Band Aid single. The story of course continues with Geldof witnessing a news report about Ethiopia, getting a load of artists together, recording “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and making a shit load of money for Africa.
All of this I am cool with, no one else at the time was really doing anything major to highlight the plight of the thousands of people starving, Geldof saw an opportunity to do something, took it, and successfully pulled it off. There were obviously charities and aid organisations involved in getting together funding and supplies to take to Africa, but they didn’t have the funding to advertise or the means to create such a media stir. Geldof did.
I will hold up my hands and say “Respect” to Bob Geldof for his part in Band Aid and the Live Aid concerts. He made a real difference and without that I honestly believe the situation in Africa would be a lot worse than it is now, and it is still bad!! However, Bob, you should have stopped there.
The Band Aid single was rerecorded in 1989 by “Band Aid II” and again in 2004 by “Band Aid 20″. Now the first of these re-releases, to me, was already flogging a dead horse. By this time several other charities had taken up the Africa campaign including the very famous Comic Relief. Their first TV Event went out in 1988 and raised £15 million.
When people are repeatedly asked for something they become despondent to it and I really feel that this is the way with charity. It is terrible I know, but really, do you donate at every charity event? Do you even listen to half of the adverts you see on television asking for your £3 a month? There were already so many good things going on to help raise money for Africa that I can’t understand why Geldof felt he needed to get involved again. The effort and organisation that must have gone into an event like Comic Relief was immense compared to the effort that went into the first Band Aid Single re-release. This is shown by the quality of the artists they managed to secure, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan being the most popular cited. I just don’t understand why he did it. Why disrupt the good work others are doing with another campaign, especially when it is something so unoriginal!!
As for the 2004 re-release, this is where “Sir” Bob Geldof – he can’t actually use the title officially as he is not a citizen of the Commonwealth – really pissed me off. The single was released and then came an announcement that a load of live concerts would take place the following year. The concerts were named Live 8 in reference to the G8 Summit in Scotland where World Leaders were due to discuss the economic situation in Africa.
Now, several major organisations were already planning campaigns and a huge march, organised by Make Poverty History (MPH), was due to take place in Scotland at the time of the G8 Summit. The idea was to put pressure on the World Leaders to actually make a real difference and wipe out third world debt or at least significantly reduce it. MPH were also making some money toward the cause with the sale of rubber wrist bands – these were seen on many popular public figures and sports stars in 2005, as well as most school kids in the country! Despite this, I reiterate, their main aim was to put pressure on the G8 leaders to make a long term difference rather than just find another short term source of cash. Then Bob came along.
Give me your fucking money!
Despite supposedly being a part of the MPH campaign, Geldof came in, used the hard work MPH had done to shamelessly promote Live 8 and then pretty much shit it out and forgot about it. Once “the celebrities” were involved the British public’s attention was taken away from the march in Scotland and swiftly focused on the worldwide concerts. For anyone confused about who I mean by “the celebrities”, they were the ones stood at the front of the crowd with the best seats and lots of room. The ones who were invited to take up a load of space that could have been given to the general public, who cost a fortune to protect with security staff, and no doubt arrived to the event in their huge hummers, and Jags, and helicopters, that consumed more money in petrol on the way there than you could afford to donate. The whole thing was a fucking charade, a mass telethon that made a reasonably large sum of money but at the same time took pressure off te G8 summit. They still made some good agreements at the summit and no doubt solved some problems, but the Live 8 concerts took so much attention that G8 hit the back burner somewhat.
So basically, I dislike Bob Geldof for the way that he has used charity for what I consider to be his own personal gain. Looking at the way the man dresses you might think that he was a bit of a pauper, someone who lives a reasonably simple life due to the principles that he holds and gives more of his income to charity than the Mormons do. I doubt that. We’re talking about a man who in 2001 had an estimated fortune of £30 million. We’re talking about a man who named his children Fifi Trxibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie. Little Pixie by the way was named after Bob read a cartoon in Private Eye, A British satirical magazine, that mocked the names he had chosen for his first two children.
Tell me that this man has done this just because he wanted to, not because he knew that he was famous enough in the eyes of the tabloid press in England to guarantee that his name was going to be plastered all over the papers even when he was doing fuck all. This is a man who traded during the Internet boom in the UK, no doubt based on reputation alone, and made a small fucking fortune.
So the next time you think “hmm, Bob Geldof, he seems like an all round good guy”, stop, think about what he has gained through what he has done, weigh it up against what he has sacrificed, think about people like Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King, and then think again.