Hypocrites in Action

Seriously, it’s stuff like this that makes me so skeptical about the human species… Is altruism dead?

Live 8 Philly performers get freebies

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – The performers at the Live 8 show in Philadelphia are getting thousands of dollars in gifts. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that celebrities at the event will be given designer suits, satellite radio subscriptions, Gibson guitars, $125 ties, $330 sweat suits and watches worth between $1,500 and $6,000. Total worth: $12,000.

The products were donated by manufacturers. Giving celebrities gift bags is common for award shows like the Grammys or the Oscars. Loyola Marymount University business and ethics professor Thomas White says it’s not unethical, but it is a gray zone.

The celebrities will also eat gourmet food catered by one of Philadelphia’s top restaurant owners, who is donating his services. The menu includes char-grilled dry aged beef, tea-smoked spare ribs and chicken and ginger dumplings.

Disgusting.

This was in Philly. Imagine the luxurious gifts being lavished on the performers in Europe and elsewhere around the globe.

Perhaps the proper gesture by the entertainers – and the manufacturers – was to take the monetary value of the gifts and donate it to feeding the hungry and buying the medications to help the sick – and prevent further illness. I would imagine that $12,000 would go a long way to fulfilling this quest quite nicely.

hyp·o·crite
n.

One who puts on a mask and feigns himself to be what he is not; a dissembler in
religion.

Today’s Live 8 series of pop music concerts is being broadcast from nine cities around the world in advance of next week’s G8 meeting in Scotland where presidents/leaders of the largest industrialized nations will meet for a three-day summit.

The crowds are certainly swaying to the beat, cheering, waving and shouting at each venue – from Philadelphia to London to Paris to Johannesburg to Rome to Berlin to Tokyo to Moscow and, lest I forget, Canada. While they’ve come together to listen to music, it also appears that the artists are beating home a united message: They want the leaders of the world’s richest countries to work toward eradicating African poverty.

In the first Live Aid concert 20 years ago, Bob Geldof urged the worldwide audience to send cash for Africa aid. This time, the music artists are using their celebrity to urge citizens to encourage world leaders to assist Africa.

Perhaps it’s the pessimist in me, but I can’t help but think that the egos, er, artists are using this event to make themselves feel more important than they really are. While I shouldn’t question a stranger’s motives as being “real” or “put on”, the fact is that I don’t think I’d buy a car from half of them. Too many of them seem to be bandwagon jumpers who will return to their lives of opulence and excess after the final hors d’oeuvres have been consumed and champagne swilled.

I won’t lie, it’s Madonna’s showing the true altruistic, benevolent, peaceful, world-inspiring spirit of Live 8 that’s tainted me on this beautiful Saturday… Flipping off is SO 1980’s….

Did anyone else find the photo op moment between Madonna and a woman who had been a starving child in Africa 20 years ago to be more than awkward? I felt sorry for this young woman who was forced to stand on stage while Madonna, backed by a choir, belted out “Like a Prayer”. This young woman stood board-stiff throughout the song – I was terribly uncomfortable for her. I got the distinct impression that she didn’t have a clue who Madonna was….

Perhaps that’s really the reason Madonna gave the middle finger.

And then there’s actor/recording artist Will Smith, the host in Philadelphia. Make no mistake, I like Will. He’s an entertaining actor, who picks his roles well. But is he sincere? I might have said “yes” originally, but I was actually put off a little when he referenced the framed Declaration of Independence being displayed/protected by two surly looking gentlemen (Secret Service agents?) on the stage behind him and told the audience that they had united for a “declaration of interdependence.” (I’m sure that many viewers thought this was a pretty nifty and rather pithy statement, but again, it rubbed me the wrong way…)

Then, via satellite, the Fresh Prince led the global audience in snapping their fingers every three seconds, signifying the child death rate in Africa.

I’m not saying that this wasn’t both touching and disturbing – but the fact that people cheered when the PSA rolled showing some of today’s biggest and/or fading stars (i.e., Brad Pitt, P. Diddy, Benicio Del Toro, etc.) snapping their fingers was a little more than alarming – and distracting. Yes, I recognize that the excitement of a “concert” atmosphere may have contributed to this seeming lack of respect, but the lack of reverence was more than a bit alarming.

Nobody can say that the entertainment for today’s massive concert isn’t spectacular – U2, Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, Sir Elton John, Sting, Neil Young, Duran Duran, The Who, Coldplay, Green Day, a much-anticipated reunited Pink Floyd and many, many more. It’s been 20 years and my memory has faded a bit, but I think that today’s line-up far outranks Live Aid’s seemingly spectacular line-up. Then, again, I don’t recall quite so many cities participating in Live Aid. So kudos to the organizers for pulling together so many big acts in such a short period of time.

I guess history will define whether or not their concerted efforts have had a positive influence on aiding Africa’s overall physical and financial health.

Truthfully, I know that my pessimism will be vindicated when the backstage stories of the various degrees of EGO come out. Then the world will understand the sheer hypocrisy.

I can’t end this post without voicing my support and prayers for the safety of the world leaders during their upcoming meeting. Let’s hope that the security forces have done their jobs successfully and that no harm comes to any of them.

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