Saturday, 7 July 2007

Live Cobblers

Live Earth today. Snore. Cataloguing all the things I hate about the idea would take up the entire bandwidth of the server, so I'll keep it down to the two main ones:

1. The name. Firstly it smacks of a kind of brand-synergy with Live Aid/8 which, frankly, I find very distasteful when associated with motives so far away from commercialism as saving the environment and fighting poverty (Naomi Klein was right: non-branded space is becoming rarer and rarer - it now even extends to charity events). But secondly, and more importantly, it goes hand in hand with the idiotic and hugely misleading idea that our duty as "citizens of the global village" (or whatever we're supposed to be now) is to Save Planet Earth!

"We are killing our planet!" the message seems to be. "Its life is in our hands! We must help the earth to live! Save it! Live Earth!"

Bollocks. The earth will be alive long after we are dead and gone, and life here has endured and abided a heck of a lot worse than us in its existence. The Cambrian Extinction, the end of the dinosaurs, countless ice ages, the supervolcano under Yellowstone Park...they relegate our efforts to the equivalent of a flea-bite. The very idea that we human beings might be anything like a threat to the Life of Planet Earth is unspeakable hubris of the very kind which the Live Earth concerts are presumably exhorting us to abandon. In fact, while we pose a danger to certain species of large animals and might be in a position to affect the planet's climate a little, we are basically here on the sufferance of insects and bacteria, who will be around long after we have faded into a distant memory.

Rather than Live Earth, I think a better name for the concert would be Live Us, because that is really what we should really be concerned about - that we don't affect our own environment so much that it becomes impossible for us to survive in it.

2. The self-righteousness. My toes are curling even thinking about the kind of sanctimonious guilt-tripping and moralising which viewers will be forced to endure - and endure, I might add, from the likes of Madonna, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Black Eyed Peas and Genesis. Annoying, fake, superficial solidarity in the name of "making a difference" will be the order of the day, along with a cartload of po-faced speechifying about how terrible we human beings are and how we all need to think seriously about conserving energy and changing our lifestyles (not Madonna's lifestyle, you understand: our lifestyles).

The worst thing is, it is all just same old, same old: Western culture has always felt the need for missionary zeal, stretching from the Crusades to colonialism to the White Man's Burden, and nowadays the messages are slightly different - fighting poverty, spreading democracy and human rights, and saving the environment - but the roots are the same: the desire to make ourselves seem superior. Meanwhile the rest of the world quietly gets on with things - China has done more to fight climate change than any Western country (and done so without silly guilt-avoidance techniques like carbon off-setting), but we rarely hear about it because it doesn't fit in with our idea of preaching The Message to the global-warming heathens (as exemplified by the fact that Live Earth concerts are even going to go on places like Beijing and Tokyo).

I really wish the organisers and participants would just fuck off and do something useful. But putting on this event will make them feel good about themselves and the fact that they're "making a difference", and that's all that really matters.

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