Thursday, July 5, 2007

Rock Gods of Conspicuous Consumption

On Saturday, rock and roll hypocrites from across the globe will gather in seven cities to perform for free in another of those ridiculous homages to their own egos disguised as social responsibility.

This time, the issue is the environment and the money they raise will, not inconveniently, be forwarded to an organization headed by Al Gore, the ex-US vice-president turned maybe-should've-been president turned enviroguru whose voracious appetite, if his bloating into a Jabba the Hutt type character is anything to go by, may be the single greatest threat to Earth's future. Well, okay, maybe global warming is a little more serious but still Al's giving Michael Moore a run for most obese propaganda artist out there.

Anyway, a few rock and rollers have been honest, refusing to play and stating that their opinions are no more valid than anyone else's. Plus, they point out, the jetsetting rock and roll lifestyle, complete with energy consuming stadium shows and conspicous consumption in all areas leaves them unable to preach to anyone else.

Sirius satellite radio will be carrying the concerts on its stations. I know this because I recently bought a new vehicle that came complete with satellite radio and a six month subscription. I must admit I'm not impressed with Sirius but that's beside the point.

What kind of vehicle did I buy? A Ford Escape hybrid. Why? Well because the environment is important but mostly because I like to protect my own pocketbook and because every cent of gas money I can save means, among other things, that another cent doesn't find its way into the pockets of rapacious oil companies and arab dictators. I don't need Al Gore or rock stars to convince me that buying a hybrid was smart; simply the fact that the federal and provincial governments in Canada offer enough tax breaks to bring the price down to that of a standard gas engine along with the future savings in gas consumption was enough all by itself.

And, therein lies the message of this post: people will help the environment when it benefits them directly. I've composted and recycled for years because that could reduce taxes on garbage collection and it offers me money for certain returnable products such as bottles and cans. What I can't return for money, I'm happy to throw in a box rather than a bag because it's just as easy.

The first great rock concert effort was, of course, Bob Geldof's inspired Live Aid that collected hundreds of millions for starvation relief in Africa. Geldof, former frontman for the Boomtown Rats (whose album the Fine Art of Surfacing I still love) was spurred on by the famine in Ethiopia. I was about 19 at the time and vaguely remember watching the concerts in London and Philadelphia (I think) all day while drinking beer and smoking pot. Sadly, much of what Geldof raised ended up going nowhere. The money was spent but a lot of the food ended up rotting on docks or on the black market and never did a damn thing to reduce starvation.

But, at least Geldof's heart was in the right place. Unlike his effort, I view Saturday's concerts as a cynical attempt for recognition while Al Gore's ego gets to grow as big as the rest of him. And, also unlike Geldof's attempt, this time I won't be watching.


Michael said...

Geldof, former frontman for the Boomtown Rats

He also played the role of "Pink," in Pink Floyd's movie The Wall.

Lexcen said...

Maybe success and fabulous wealth does make rock stars feel guilty and raise their desire, if not their ability to save the world?
I was always suspect of Bono's intentions in promoting political issues until I read an interview where he spoke of a religious imperative that did indeed come from his guilt about his success.

ButterSnatch said...

A hybrid? PONCE!

Kidding... but seriously, haven't you found that the added expense of purchasing a hybrid has offset any gasoline savings you might have realized?

As for all the Live'Aid, Band'Aid, Homo'Aid, AIDS'Aid bullshit concerts that all these self important ass-munches put on in the name of humanity or whatever the falvor'aid of the week is... fuck em' all right in the pooper (especially that worthless spoogestain, Bono).

They are out for one reason, and one reason only. The mighty dollars they can line THEIR OWN pockets with. Do you think they really give a shit about the starving children in Africa, or the tsunami victims/survivors in Indonesia?

That is all… carry on.

southfield_2001 said...

Buttersnatch: actually, the hybrid was no more expensive than a standard gas-powered engine. Where I live, you get $2,000 off your provincial sales tax and a $2,000 rebate from the federal government when you buy one so the $4,000 offsets the higher sticker price.

lex: I'm sure that many rock stars' hearts are in the right place. What is hypocritical is that even with their deep concern for the environment, most of them leave dinosaur-sized carbon footprints on the planet due to their lifestyles. "Do as I say, not as I do" is not a philosophy that appeals to me.

Michael said...

I think the best Bono story I ever heard was an interview with U2, and the band was talking about a meal they had with Johnny Cash.

Cash lead them in a deep and impassioned grace, thanking God for their success, and the food on the table, and when he finished, said Bono, he paused, lowered his head, and said, "I sure do miss the drugs, though."

southfield_2001 said...

ROFLMAO! Johnny Cash just went waaaaay up in my estimation.
I'd be happy if I never heard another U2 song again, though. Has there ever been a more overplayed band than them? I mean, okay, they're pretty good and all and a couple of their early albums were excellent but they haven't really done anything of substance for about 20 years and all their songs sound pretty much the same.

Catherine said...

"I'm sure that many rock stars' hearts are in the right place. What is hypocritical is that even with their deep concern for the environment, most of them leave dinosaur-sized carbon footprints on the planet due to their lifestyles. "Do as I say, not as I do" is not a philosophy that appeals to me."

While you're right about the hypocrisy, I don't really have a problem with the Live Earth concerts, because if they inspire a good number of people to start being more environmentally responsible, then that's a positive result. I don't think it's a bad thing when celebrities, whether they're doing it for the right or wrong reasons, use their celebrity to raise awareness about global problems and inspire people to take action.

southfield_2001 said...

I don't have a problem with celebrities trying to do right, cat. I do have a problem with them demanding others do right while not contributing themselves.
Al Gore, for chrissakes, has a house that uses 20 times the average power of a normal American home and he only began retrofitting it after that fact appeared in the media. But, now he's the leading enviro crusader on the planet. There's just something wrong about that.
I'll give kudos to someone like Angelina Jolie for actually addressing the causes she believes in but not to those who do it for publicity and to reap financial benefit.

Catherine said...

Oh, I'm not handing out kudos to all of these celebs. I'm saying the concerts themselves are a good thing if they inspire enough people to act. I agree with you about the hypocrisy of those performing in and organizing the concerts, to a point. Filthy rich people are going to live in huge houses, and huge houses are going to use a lot more energy than the average American home. That being said, they should do as much as they possibly can to minimize their energy use, especially if they are going to go around preaching to others to do the same.