All over the media, there seems to be a fashion for various journalists to criticise Bob Geldof and his efforts in fundraising through Band Aid 30 - having a look at some of these left me heartbroken at what lengths people will go to be critical. I have had enough of what seems to me to be nothing but hypocrisy and news outlets seeking to gain sales by controversy and an almost apparently malicious attempt to derail this project.
Therefore, because I believe this criticism is utterly misguided, below are some reasons why I think Band Aid 30 is a very good thing - in fact nothing short of the most virtuous song this year - and that though no-one is perfect, it is something very much worthwhile supporting, and criticisms are unhelpful at best and malicious and cruel at worse:
1) 100% of proceeds from this song go to efforts to fight Ebola, and this is far better than the vast majority of music does
This is a fact which I believe that people have dismissed very lightly. To produce a song totally not-for-profit is a very rare occurrence, as so much of the music industry, like other business, is simply intending to make the largest profit for the shareholder possible. Most songs, which people don't even dare to criticise, have no such good intention, simply making record labels and artists richer than they already are - no-one generally writes article after article criticising these songs, yet Band Aid, which actually makes no profit and gives away all of its proceeds, is the one being criticised. If Band Aid, which actually seeks to make a positive difference, is at fault here, then why are we not criticising the thousands of music companies which seek nothing but profit? The double standards are staggering, yet so many articles seem to condemn an attempt at charity yet consider most profit-centred motives absolutely fine!
2) Foreign aid is not perfect, but that doesn't mean it doesn't make a positive difference to thousands of lives, which is worthwhile
Of course, charitable donation and attempts to help Afican countries are not always the most efficient - just as anything humankind does is rarely completely efficient, because we're not perfect. Sometimes, foreign aid has been positively damaging. Yet I believe that this is the exception rather than the rule. Many thousands of people have been genuinely helped by the efforts of charitable organisations; regardless of how fashionable it is at the moment to criticise charity, we have to face the facts that a lot of the time it does really help people! It all, of course, depends on what the money goes towards, and in this case of the crisis situation of Ebola, a short-term injection of help could be exactly what those suffering from the outbreak, which causes unimaginably horrendous suffering to thousands, need at this time.
In fact, it seems to me that this is one of the most suitable forms of aid at this time - in such a crisis situation, before the economies of Liberia and neighbouring countries can have a chance to grow, this Ebola situation needs to end, and I firmly believe that Band Aid 30's fundraising efforts will play a role in it. Of course, it may not be 100% efficient, but that's far different to claiming it does no good at all. Some of the money may inadvertently go to corrupt officials, but that surely doesn't take away from the fact that a great deal of it does go to the right people! We need to be careful that, in our zeal to condemn such charity efforts, we are not wasting an incredible opportunity to make a difference to thousands of lives suffering from Ebola.
3) The lyrics portray Ebola as a very negative situation, but then again, it would be almost insensitive to not do this
Some have criticised Band Aid's lyrics, saying that they portray Africa in a negative light. Yet I also believe this misses the point: Ebola is, undoubtedly, a horrible disease to suffer from, and this song is arguably fairly mild in its portrayal of the plight of its victims. The song is well-recorded, meaningful, and the lines are even rather poetic, focussing on the fact that even touches of comfort by those seeking to help victims can prove deadly, in the cruelty of this disease, in the line, "Where to comfort is to fear, where to touch is to be scared." This song is not about representing Africa as a whole - it's about addressing a particular, undeniably negative situation, and so the choice of lyrics seem very fitting; and as is the case for any song, the lyrics are metaphors and thus simply cannot be taken utterly literally - it's not an academic report set to music after all! Therefore, over-analysis of the lyrics is simply unhelpful and unrepresentative; of course they're not saying there's no hope whatsoever in Africa. What they are saying, though, is that many people are deprived of family and their futures and so this can make everything seem hopeless, which is the very issue that the song is seeking to address...
It contains no swear words, and no sexual references or references to anger or vengeance, which alone makes it a much more family-friendly song, arguably, than many Christmas singles; ironically, while many popular Christmas songs are played without criticism, despite having questionable lyrical references, the one song actually seeking to make money for charity is the one being condemned. It really raises questions of our perspective in this matter.
4) No person is perfect, and neither are the celebrities performing Band Aid, but this is absolutely irrelevant to the song itself - it can be an extremely good thing even if those creating it themselves have made mistakes in the past.
Others have criticised the people performing the song, pointing to events in their past which portray them in a bad light - and undoubtedly they aren't perfect, as none of us are. But how is this relevant to whether the song itself is good or helpful to Ebola? Of course celebrities could set better examples and improve, but surely their sacrifice to perform Band Aid without any payment (with some of them sacrificing time with family, interviews, even concerts to record their short snippet in the song) means something! In addition, how is their past or their intentions even relevant to whether one should support the fundraising effort to combat Ebola? Remember they're the ones getting the money, not the singers themselves! Surely we shouldn't let our prejudices and bitterness reduce the incredible potential to help those suffering through this single...
An incredible opportunity...
In summary, I am completely in support of Band Aid 30, even though it's not perfect, because I see it as a community triumph, a gathering of people to seek to make a difference to the world, an incredible opportunity to finally end a problem which has been causing misery to millions. I despair at the damage they are causing to it - it seems such injustice is being done, which, as I have argued, I do not believe is in any way representative or fair. As such, I would urge as many people as possible to post, tweet about and blog about the positives of Band Aid 30, as well as listen to and buy the track - and make this one the the most wonderful examples of communal charity the world has ever seen! Let's stop getting caught up on small fault-finding, and embrace this incredible opportunity to make a real difference!