Magazine article The Spectator

Celebrity Culture

Magazine article The Spectator

Celebrity Culture

Article excerpt

I'm glad I avoided listening to or watching any of the Live8 concert in Hyde Park last Saturday because the report about it on Radio Five Live's Weekend Breakfast programme the following morning made it sound like a creepily schmaltzy affair, which would have been better renamed Luwies Unleashed. The fact that so many thousands of people were drawn to it is a sad reflection of how so many of the young have been lobotomised by the celebrity culture which has engulfed the media. When showbusiness coalesces with politics it usually means another hopeless cause. The pop music world's sentimentality and ignorance of the world is about as much use as Liberace's candelabra. I heard on Today on Radio Four on Monday that some buffoon from the group Coldplay had described Live8 as the greatest event in the history of the world.

If I seem jaundiced about the occasion it's perhaps because I've some experience of Africa and know exactly why most of it is in such a mess. According to the Sunday Telegraph, in the past 40 years the West has given $450 billion dollars in aid to Africa and yet, on average, Africans are poorer now than they were then. More aid will only be wasted or stolen. We all know why Tony Blair seeks to use emotion to help his cause but why does the BBC have to collude with him? Cowed post-Hutton, the corporation seems to have become a government lackey, broadcasting an almost obsessive and interminable Africa season on radio and television, part-sponsoring the Live8 concert and meekly doing what the government wants.

Wondering if the weekend was to become another Princess Diana moment, I listened to Five Live's morning phone-in last Friday and was pleased to hear that not everyone had lost a sense of proportion about Africa. Some more realistic souls said in calls or emails that they were more than aware that many African leaders were to blame for their countries' problems and that aid wasn't the solution. The presenter Phil Williams wondered if the Make Poverty History slogan shouldn't be Make Bad Government History, which is much more to the point.

What Africa really needs is not Bob Geldof but someone like Major Geoffrey Langlands, a truly remarkable man. At 87 he's the only British resident remaining in the Chitral Valley area of the North West Frontier province of Pakistan, next to the border with Afghanistan. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.