Bob Geldof's charity Band Aid has released a new single. The song, an updated version of his 1984 original "Do They Know its Christmas," will raise money to combat the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
The cause is unquestionably important, but the song and its accompanying video have already inspired a storm of criticism from commentators who found it insulting, stereotype-ridden, and inaccurate.
Having watched the video, I have a number of questions. For instance:
- Do Bob Geldof & Co. know that 87% of Liberians are Christian, as are substantial minorities in Guinea and Sierra Leone?
- If so, why does the song spend so much time asking if they "know it's Christmastime at all"?
- How many Africans need to learn about Christmas in order to cure Ebola?
- Can learning about other holidays also cure disease?
- Could knowing that it's Columbus Day cure malaria?
- How can you be so sure?
- Well have you run a randomized controlled trial on the anti-viral properties of holiday knowledge?
- Why are they singing "it's Christmastime" in early November?
- Is it possible that Bob Geldof & Co. are the ones who are having difficulty pinning down the existence and timing of Christmas?
- Did they get their calendar information from the same source that told them that there is "death in every tear" in West Africa?
- Shouldn't they know that there is death in, at most, a fraction of a percentage of all tears, once infection and survival rates are taken into account?
- Why didn't the song's writers feel an obligation to be more accurate in their lyrics?
- Because it's art? Really?
- Hahahahaha, no really why?
- Why did the song's producer respond to measured criticism from a Liberian academic by angrily asking if she wanted people to "sit back and do nothing?"
- Is he under the impression that the only available options for Ebola relief are "produce and market a stereotype-laden pop song that offends the people it's supposed to be helping" or "do nothing"?
- Is anyone else growing increasingly curious about where these guys get their information?
- Has anyone told them that Wikipedia is a thing?
- Or, you know, Oxfam?
- Speaking of which, where is the money from this campaign actually going?
- The Band Aid website just says "all proceeds from the Band Aid 30 competition will be donated to the intervention and prevention of the spread of Ebola"; doesn't that seem a little unspecific?
- Can't they tell us the actual charity?
- Could they give us a hint?
- Even if we promised to keep it a secret?