Saturday, January 23, 2010

We Aren't the World

Did anybody watch the Hope for Haiti Now benefit concert last night? It aired on just about every channel, but I avoided it. My objections to the show had nothing to do with Haiti and everything to do with smug and annoying pop-stars I don't like shedding tears for the camera.

I understand that telethons are used to spread awareness as well as raise money. During the 1985 Live Aid concert, donations were only trickling in, but during a break, a short film was broadcast showing starving and diseased Ethiopian children. The rate of giving became faster in the immediate aftermath of the heartbreaking video.

However, last night's concert extravaganza didn't serve the same enlightening purpose. In the days since the Haiti earthquake, we have all seen plenty of pictures of destruction and suffering. If everybody is already aware of the earthquake, then how does the telethon really help? Or why does it help? Are there really people who need to see Justin Timberlake singing Hallelujah before they'll donate? Yes, apparently there are millions of people like that.

A few days ago I got into an argument about this on a Sims board. Yes, you read that right. I got into an argument on a message board for the Sims video game. Some players wanted the game makers to sell special Haiti themed game items and donate a percentage of the profits to the Haiti relief fund. Zynga is doing something similar with Farmville. My caustic response was, "Give directly to the Red Cross and don't worry about what's in it for you and your fake people." Wow. That did not go over well with the other Simmers. I guess I should get over the idea that people should be altruistic.

I think Stephen Colbert was brilliant with his new Humanitarish Award for cost-benefit analyzed generosity:

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By the way, the best TV show last night was Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show farewell. He was funny, and classy, and went out jamming on the guitar. Somebody has to give him another television show, or we'll all be stuck watching that deranged jaywalker.

1 comment:

Trung said...

i didn't watch the hope for haiti telethon either last night, although my reasons differ than yours. while i can only conjecture, my feeling is that these artists felt the best way they could help was to sing a song. you are right; the haiti earthquake disaster is all over the news, so unless you have lived under a rock for the past two weeks, it's hard not to hear anything about it. as for mr. o'brien, i was sad to see him leave the tonight show. nbc didn't give him a chance to build an audience. i hope he is the first guest on letterman when leno returns in march.