I’m sure a lot of people thought it was great, but for me Live Earth was a disaster. It’s not that getting the message across isn’t an admirable thing, I’m not a global warming denier or anything, but the format was all wrong. Here’s why:
- It’s a complex issue. Rock stars and comedians don’t do complex. When we are told that the groups are being briefed backstage on being green you can’t help wonder what right they’ve got to be supporting a cause they don’t practice. I know we’re obsessed by celebrity, but some things are better left to others.
- It seemed to undermine itself. I’m sure they recycled, did carbon offsetting etc, but the whole thing reminded of a sketch with Harry Enfield playing the self-important DJ Dave Smash. He brags at one point ‘a bunch of us took our helicopters up and flew them around London for an hour. We raised over fifty quid for green charities.’ (this is from memory, so is not verbatim)
- A muddled message. What was the message exactly? Was it about global warming specifically? Or recycling more? Or just anything green? You can criticise the original Live Aid, but it did work as a spectacle because it had a clear message.
- It ain’t rock n roll. For Live Aid, rock stars could get angry about people dying, but saying ‘don’t leave your TV on standby’ just isn’t rock n roll. One almost expected Iggy Pop to come on stage and start singing ‘I’ve got a bag, bag, bag, bag for life.’
The common response is that if it makes one person switch off their TV, it’s worthwhile. But I think there are better ways to get that message across, for example making ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ compulsory viewing in all schools. I also fear it might have had a negative effect. If you were unsure about it all before, seeing comedians sneering, and bands admitting they didn’t do anything would be all the justification you needed to do nothing.