Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A Song That Needn't Be Remade...Being Remade!

I have always maintained that the worst charity song ever was "Do They Know It's ChristmasTime," a 1984 ode written to benefit starving kids in Ethiopia. Ostensibly, a good idea. Until you pay attention to the lyrics. Some examples:

1. "Let them know its Christmas time." For the majority of Africans who are not Christians, it boggles the mind as to why this might be relevant or meaningful.

2. "And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas." Except perhaps if you happen to be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. The Brits who wrote this song apparently think that Africa is all starvation and desert filled with Sally Struthers types and kids with swollen bellies and fly-covered faces.

3. "Where nothing ever grows/no rain or river flows" Nothing ever grows? No rain or river flows? The Nile is the longest river in the world. And it actually does move. And get this: there are actually trees, grass and rain forests in Africa. I know that the songwriters want to cast dire images, but they didn't need to exploit stereotypes to foster generosity, do they? Aside from being stunningly patronizing, it is only partly right. But, it does rhyme.

4. "Well tonight thank God its them, instead of you." No comment.

Calling themselves "Band Aid," the old version featured a collection of A list artists, like Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran, Bono, Boy George (Jospeh K is one of Boy's biggest and straightest fans in the metropolitian D.C. area) and the multi-talented women from Bananrama.

This remake is either filled with a bunch of nobodies or stars (thereby reflecting how out of it I am when it comes to pop culture, particularly British pop culture). What is The Darkness and why are we bringing them to starving kids around the world? Who are Jamelia, the Sugarbabes, Busted? Does no one important in England even care?

Somewhere in Darfur, there is a hungry refugee who is thinking,"Keep your Sugarbabes. Just send rice and ask that janjaweed man to stop raping my mom and sister." And in England, one of the members of that Sugarbabes group will be drinking a cosmpolitan with her friend saying, "Yeah, it was so cool hanging out with Jamelia. She/He could really sing. Oh, and we saw a video of those kids with flies and shit and it was dead sad. Anyways, I am so bloody hungry, let's get something to eat, yeah?"


Blogger Spiral Stairs said...

Interesting. I think I will pen a new benefit song for the poor and desperate of America: "Do They Know It's Diwali Time?" If they knew that, surely their problems would dissolve in a sea of joyous chutney and curry.

Seriously, though, wasn't the world a lot more racist, homophobic, and otherwise ill-mannered in the 1980s? I just watched Eddie Murphy's Raw a few nights ago. The number of "fag" jokes was really astonishing. They were funny, mind you, but it's hard to imagine them now. Especially when Eddie Murphy's movies are about chatty rabbits and daddies doing day care.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched some of Eddie Murphy's old stand up comedy recently as well. Actually, what I find astonishing is how unfunny he is. Maybe I'm turned off by his sexism and homophobia, but I didn't find him nearly as funny as I did when I was 12.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

Eddie Murphy titilated me as 13 year old because he talked about sex and shit, which was scary so talking about it was funny. I find him pretty loud and annoying now. Richard Pryor on the other hand, talked about the same topics and was sad and hilarious.

8:19 PM  

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