This appealing Christmas staple is overflowing with star condescension.
Many of the most popular numbers in the Christmas canon appear to duplicate endlessly; hardly ever are new entries confessed into the upper echelon (in the last 30 years or so, just Mariah Carey’s “All I Desired for Christmas Is You” has joined the ranks). Some of these songs are far even worse than others, sustained in circulation by simple inertia or sheer novelty (I’m looking at you, “I Desired a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” “All I Want for Christmas [Is My Two Front Teeth],” and the whole vacation repertoire of Alvin and the Chipmunks). When one is faced by the blizzard of Christmas dreck, it can be a significant relief to hear Christmas tunes with high production quality and real musical worth
To be clear, there are some virtues to this Christmas staple from1984 Bob Geldof and Midget Ure were acting out of a spirit of genuine charity and compassion when they led production of the song to produce help for Ethiopia, then in the grips of a famine. And they put together a mind-boggling menagerie of contemporary stars to contribute– to name a few, Sting, Young Boy George, Phil Collins, and Bono (who were a few of the greatest acts in the world at the time)– while handling to stabilize their skills (and egos). The tune itself accomplishes a nicely sluggish build to its anthemic chorus. Not everyone shares that see; Morrissey, previous front man of The Smiths, has said that “the song was absolutely tuneless” and “a terrible record considering the mass of talent involved.” He added that “one can have terrific issue for the people of Ethiopia, but it’s another thing to inflict day-to-day torture on individuals of Great Britain.”
Morrissey aside, the tune blew Geldof and Ure’s fundraising goals out of the water: They reportedly were shooting for about ₤70,000 however handled to raise millions.
To comprehend why “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is so terrible, you ought to listen to the lyrics, even though the tune’s slick and appealing structure can make it difficult to actually focus on them. The gist of the song is a juxtaposition regret journey, contrasting an indifferent world of “light,” “plenty,” and “happiness”– most likely, the world of most Western record-buyers– with the allegedly powerless suffering of the song’s topics. (” Well this evening, thank God it’s them, rather of you!” as Bono sardonically roars.) It’s one thing to utilize guilt as an inducement; as a Catholic, I am well knowledgeable about the power of that specific force. It’s another thing to milk a condescending stereotype, rejecting an entire continent not simply company however likewise differentiation and even crucial realities about the method many of its residents live.
Start with the physical descriptors of the continent of Africa in the tune. It paints with such a broad brush as to suggest the entire landmass is like Arrakis, the desert world in Dune, where water is so valuable that spitting is considered an indication of respect and weeping for the deceased is so rare that those who do it are thought to be honoring them by “providing water” to them. In the Band Aid version of Africa, it’s a land “where the only water streaming/ Is the bitter sting of tears.” Just to ensure you get the point, the song likewise claims that Africa is a land “where absolutely nothing ever grows/ No rain nor rivers circulation.” It’s true that there are deserts in Africa, notably the Sahara, and that water gain access to can be threatened by droughts and other aspects. But the tune seems to forget the existence of the Nile River (the world’s longest) and Lake Victoria, to call simply 2 water bodies, not to discuss the shorelines of lots of countries, and the different landscapes of jungles, savannahs, mountains, and more. Some of the best civilizations in human history have actually handled to thrive in Africa both despite and since of its diverse functions.
Due To The Fact That Christmas in Africa varies so significantly from Christmas in a wealthy Western country, the tune recommends, the vacation there essentially can not be meaningful. Setting aside the single-biome-planet mindset of these lyrics yet again, we can state with self-confidence that, in many places throughout the world, it’s more than possible to commemorate Christmas without snow. The songwriters appear unusually locked in to a precisely preconceived image of what Christmas is expected to look like.
The concern the song’s title poses is inadvertently amusing, offered that the powerful cultural existence of Christianity in Africa, especially Ethiopia, is most likely to make Africans even more capable of understanding it’s Christmas than many of the citizens of the materialist culture who contributed to the tune.
This distinction may discuss what is by far the song’s greatest moral failing. Paying enough attention to the song to really hear those words for the first time was what led me to view this catchy ’80 s synthpop Christmas song as more insidious than I had ever thought. “Look at these bad Africans,” the song appears to say, lumping hundreds of millions of people into an undifferentiated, suffering mass, all of them in desperate need of the aid that apparently just the musicians who recorded a charity single in the midst of an alcohol-and-drug-fueled bacchanal could provide.
Possibly, however that seems a bit too generous to the skill behind the tune. Rather, they gathered, though with good motives, to produce a song that elevated themselves to godlike status while lowering their designated recipients to victim status.