Apparently it doesn’t have to be any good – it just matters that you buy it because it’s for charity, you see. At least, that’s what Bob Geldof has been telling everyone with regard to the latest version of the ‘Band Aid’ single being inflicted upon an unsuspecting British public, this time with helping victims of Ebola as an excuse. But the thing is, that it does have to be good, otherwise why should anyone be bothered to spend their hard earned cash on it, regardless of whether it’s for charity or not? Moreover, it’s just as insulting to the people you are allegedly trying to help as it is to this you want to buy it, to put out just any old shit as a charity single. I mean, is that what you really think of the less fortunate – that they aren’t even worthy of millionaire performers putting any real effort into the project? Are you really saying that you think any old crap should be acceptable, just because it’s supposedly for charity? (‘Dapper Laughs’ certainly seemed to think that: he implied that his execrable Christmas record would be helping the homeless, clearly thinking that no-one would buy his misogynist shit on its own merits. Thankfully, he was called out on this claim and now ‘Dapper Laughs’ is no more).
Sadly, Geldof’s ‘Look, it’s for charity, so you can give the paying public any old shit’ attitude seems to be prevalent amongst celebrities these days with regard to charitable causes. Which these days seem to focus around big TV events like Children in Need, Comic Relief and that thing on Channel Four the other week, which was so memorable I have no idea what it was even in aid of, let alone who was in it. Whilst they seem to exist primarily for celebrities to salve their consciences about earning all that money and not paying their taxes, they still seem reluctant to commit their best efforts, performance-wise, to them. Just look at Comic Relief, for instance – a collection of pretty lame routines and sketches from various celebrities, punctuated by ‘heart-rending’ films of them ‘helping’ poor people in Africa. None of it is their best material. Obviously – they want to reserve that for paying audiences, (paying their box-office, not charity, that is). To be fair, I have to admit that it is years since I’ve seen Comic Relief, so it could have improved since then, but I doubt it. Children in Need is, if anything, even worse, with its dire regional opt-outs to show us what the local micro-celebrities in our regions are doing to encourage us to give money. It’s this shoddiness which offends me – the idea that just because something is for charity, you can get away with serving up any old shit. If nothing else, it displays an incredibly patronising attitude on the part of the participating celebrities with regard to the public. If you want us to donate money, then at least have the decency to put some effort into entertaining us. Or, even better, why not try making some sizeable donations from your own sizeable bank accounts? It’s tax deductible, after all.
Another thing I bloody hate about charity campaigns – they’re always trying to get you to give up something. So far this Autumn, for instance, we’ve already had ‘Stoptober’, where we were all urged to give up drinking for the month of October. For charity, of course. For God’s sake, drinking is one of the few pleasures I have left, I don’t care if it is for charity, I’m not giving it up even for a month. But it will be good for you, they say in their adverts, chronicling all the hangovers and damage to your liver you’ll avoid by not drinking during October. Thereby making you feel guilty for abusing your body, before telling you how you can help them raise money by abstaining. A neat trick there to convince you that you can restore your self-esteem by joining their campaign. But it isn’t just ‘Stoptober’ we’ve had to endure. Oh no, as I write this, we’re in the midst of ‘Movember’ during which people are encouraged to grow moustaches for charity and we have to put up with various celebrities showing us how they can’t grow one, ending up with what looks like a smudge of boot polish beneath their noses. Trust me, moustaches are for life and should be left to the professionals. Amateur moustaches which last only a month are an offence against nature.
If they really wanted my support, then what they need to do is come up with a month-long charity campaign where it is exclusively celebrities who stop doing something. Like making money. They could give all their earnings to charity, instead. Now, there’s a thought. That said, I’ve had my own idea for one of these charity themed-month fundraising campaigns: how about ‘Nudecember’? Instead of growing moustaches or stopping drinking, people could be urged to become naturists for a month and wander around stark bollocking naked for charity. Not only would it be more of a challenge than the others – it’s generally bloody cold in December – but ‘Nudecember’ actually contains the whole of the real name of the month it is supposed to take place in, unlike ‘Stoptober’ or ‘Movember’. Quite what charity it would raise funds for, I haven’t a clue. But that doesn’t matter, because it’s an idea, and it’s ideas which matter in business. If you’ve got an idea, then you can use it to impress some toss pots, sorry, investors, into giving you the money to turn it into actuality and thereby found your multi-billion dollar business empire. At least, that’s the impression TV shoes like The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den give.
I know that by now everyone is screaming about how I’ve got no sense of fun, to lighten up – all these telethons and campaigns are for a good cause after all. But that’s the point – I’m sick to death of charities trying to make fundraising ‘fun’. It isn’t. Getting people to part with money isn’t fun. Paying it out certainly isn’t. No matter how ‘good’ the cause. Besides, the causes charities usually collect for – famine, natural disasters, terminal illness, horrendous diseases, maimed animals and abused children, to name but a few – are anything but ‘fun’. Trying to make their campaigns ‘fun filled’ and ‘entertaining’ rather demeans the seriousness of these causes, I can’t help but feel. But then, I’m a curmudgeonly old git, aren’t I? The bottom line here is that if they want my money, then just bloody ask for it, don’t try and get me to stop drinking or grow facial hair, or blight my ears with crappy charity singles. Sure, I’ll probably still say ‘no’, but at least we’ll both know where we stand, won’t we?