Why You Shouldn’t Support Band Aid

In 1984, the pop greats of the time lead by Bob Geldof got together to release ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ to raise money for the famine in Africa and in doing so they released the most offensive song meant to inspire compassion ever written. It is a song that reeks of white Western privilege. This song is getting a re-release to raise money for the Ebola crisis in West Africa and while they say the song is getting a tweak to make it reflect the Ebola crisis I wonder if anyone has realised how offensive this song was in the first place.

I was 9 when the song was released and it immediately annoyed me.  Mainly because 9 year old Aussie me was offended by the line – ‘And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime’ There is never any snow in Australia at Christmastime either, but we damn well knew it is Christmas. Snow doesn’t equal Christmas around the entire world.

Also, the continent of Africa is roughly 45% Muslim.  That means that around half of the population don’t celebrate Christmas in any form, therefore them not knowing it’s Christmas is no hardship whatsoever. So, you know, points lost for cultural sensitivity there.

Then there were just lines like ‘And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom‘ and ‘Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears‘ which were just ridiculously over the top.

If these weren’t bad enough, then there comes the most offensive lyric ever that I still can’t believe it exists. ‘Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you‘. Now it is a natural reaction to be thankful that you yourself are not starving to death, but to be thankful that someone else is?  How the fuck is this line, in any context, okay?? I’m appalled that anyone thinks that this line was not only okay, but totally appropriate to be in a song raising money for people who were starving to death.

Therefore, I urge you to tell your friends and family, not to buy this song. Ignore their pleas that everyone needs to buy this song to donate money to help fight Ebola. You don’t. There are plenty of worthy charities out there fighting the good fight against Ebola.  If you have a couple of euros spare, then please give them to Doctors Without Borders – either here in Germany or in the US or in the UK or Australia. Your money will go to an organisation who have been there since the beginning of the outbreak and doesn’t attempt to cash in on outdated and offensive stereotypes and sentiments while increasing their public profile.



5 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t Support Band Aid

  1. I had no idea this was being re-released… and without …erm… updating the lyrics?? I was OK with it first time round, mainly because, let’s face it, I didn’t really understand English back then, and it was a catchy tune ;-)

    I heard of something even more terrifying on the radio today: Apparently, there’s an organisation called “Clowns Without Borders”. Am too afraid to google it…

  2. Pingback: As Heard On The BBC | Geek Mädel

  3. I totally agree. I always turn that song off when it comes on the radio – as if the entire continent is starving?? And as if no one in our own “privileged white countries” is starving. Horribly offensive song and not looking forward to listening to it all over the place yet again!

  4. [ I try to comment in English as good as I can …]

    We should not forget that times and thoughts back in 1984 were a bit different from today. The song was written in and for its time and circumstances.
    The song’s main intention was to appeal to people in Western (and mostly Christian) Europe not to forget the starving people in Africa while celebrating Christmas here.

    I think the lyrics “thank God it’s them instead of you” (sung by Bono of U2 as far as I remember) could only be meant in an ironic/guilt-tripping way.

    But I totally agree that this song has to be updated/”modernised” before re-release!

    • It definitely was written in different times and when our cultural sensitivities were very different. However, in my opinion, the song should stay in the past where it belongs. Those views have no place in 2014. There is no reason why Bob Geldof and co couldn’t write a brand new song – one more relevant to the Ebola crisis and to society today.

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