Some time ago I wrote a piece on Art vs Justice, which threw about some arguments as to whether art is ethical when people are still dying of hunger. More recently some discussion around that issue came up over on Jonny's blog as to whether art is 'vital' in itself or not.
Tonight my niece came over and insisted on watching Comic Relief Fame Academy, where a bunch of people with perhaps 16 minutes of fame between them sing songs badly and get the public to phone into premium rate numbers to vote for them. Most of the money goes to charity. What riled was that these people - all of whom clearly do well out of their careers - were accommodated in the 'Fame Academy' and showered with champagne and fine foods... Cut then to a short film interlude about starving children in Africa.
Pete Rollins has written a little about Derrida and his ideas about what the perfect 'gift' would be. He concludes that there is never any gift we give that doesn't bring with it some strings attached. In this case, we seem happy to give to charity as long as we get some sloppy singing or second rate comedy. Without the telethon bit, we're less prepared to simply give.
Connectedly, a report today (not in a paper I like, I must say) suggested that Bono's Brand Red idea (see original debate on this blog) for raising money has pulled in £9m. Great. But on an advertising spend of £52m, completely shameful.
Poverty has been commodified. We can handle the short interlude films, but only if we have fat sections of people making fools of themselves. Perhaps the phone lines ring because people just want to pay to see the images go away. Either way, I for one am sick of celebrities being wheeled out to try to get us to give.