Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Gore’s Show Bleeds

The folks over at The Corner offer some insightful explanations for the failure of the so-called "Live Earth" concert to take off this weekend. The ratings were terrible, it cost too much to produce and, ironically, used too much energy . . . etc. Jonah Goldberg linked to this witty explanation: the folks at "Live" Earth were barely alive. It was all music from really old guys and gals. And it was put together by a former Vice President. How many ways are there to bore your kids to death? Imagine, he notes, if Woodstock had been organized by Hubert Humphrey!

I knew the thing was going to be a big stinker for many reasons but this is what cinched it for me: I was visiting my 78 year old grandmother when it aired and she really wanted to watch it. When she turned it on, my kids (politely, of course) asked if they could be excused from the room. They felt like I used to feel when visiting her as a kid and she would turn on the Lawrence Welk Show.

Discussions - 19 Comments

it's a secret type of marketing...it's marketing for just about everything but the true cause...

Rather than a tired and unnecessary rant against those with good intentions and the manifestation of such in a lackluster concert event, Goldberg could have picked a far more challenging, substantial target and taken his pot shots at the latest smackdown of global warming struthiousness from people who actually have their educations in science rather than marketing or political - see here:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=aLq__5sibbvo

In fact, Goldberg did not write the "rant" --rather, he just linked to it. And while it could be argued to be "tired" and "unnecessary" from a certain point of view; I would argue that it illuminates certain aspects of the whole environmental movement. A great deal of it is little more than marketing and low politics . . . and a desperate attempt by self-obsessed older entertainers to remain current and appeal to a new, young audience. It turns out, in the end, to be a sad spectacle (as such things usually do) and it fails not only to secure its stated aims but also its real ones. There is a moral lesson for all of us in that.

Yes, Goldberg merely linked to it. Right. It's not like he took his OWN turn shooting those fish in the barrel, recycling many of the same facile points that Surber made in his blog post a day earlier - see here:

http://author.nationalreview.com/latest/?q=MjE5NQ==

So, he doesn't think a global series of concerts featuring mostly past-prime stars and 2nd-tier acts is going to be very effective at accomplishing anything. That's insight? He also didn't like how "the outrage and passion felt so prepackaged," yet I suspect if it looked or felt spontaneous and genuine, then he would do a 180 and say it was impulsive and out-of-control, which are surely bad things for a fellow who dislikes jumping so much (it's "childish" - Does he only attend shows where he lays on a blanket or has a reserved, velvety seat?)

My point remains. Rather than taking an easy swipe at Gore and wrinkly, benefit-playing musicians, he might have tossed a corrective soft bomb at his ever-shifting global warming skeptic colleagues on the right, who have lost -again- their silly argument that the sun is the culprit of any global warming that may or may not be occurring. That could have potentially been far more insightful.

I hasten to add also that the environmental movement is much more than these occasional spectacle concerts. Love it or hate it, it is much more than its overlap with the entertainment industry.

Bob Geldof had what I considered the best criticism of "Live Earth" -- (paraphrasing) "The purpose of concerts is to raise awareness. Everyone is already aware of global warming. What's the point of this thing?"

From my own personal point of view, I'm left wondering what the real objective was from Gore's point of view. Raise money? There are far more efficient ways to raise much more money far more quickly. Raise awareness? Geldof's point is spot on. Get people "involved" in the movement? I doubt there's a movement today that has more participation than environmentalism. So what exactly was Gore's objective?

Oh ... wait. Silly me. I forgot to put my cynical hat on. The objective was ... of course! ... Al Gore himself. The who extravaganza was to raise the profile of Al Gore. He achieved that ... but perhaps not in the way he intended or desired.

Steven R. Smith wrote: "I hasten to add also that the environmental movement is much more than these occasional spectacle concerts. Love it or hate it, it is much more than its overlap with the entertainment industry."

You're right. It is. The environmental movement is at its core a modern day form of paganism. For many it is a "religion". The essential issue of guilt management is at its core; all the trappings of works righteousness are present. In the more extreme cases the deity is the earth itself, for others the object of devotion is a vague sense of nature being a quasi-sentient force. For most there is the comfort of ritual -- recycling, devotion to organic food. Take a look at how religions are practiced today and you'll see very similar things.

Understanding the behavior and fervor of environmentalists is sometimes difficult. Unless the movement is viewed through the lens of religion. Then it makes sense.

Every sect, as far as reason will help them, make use of it gladly; and where it fails them, they cry out, “It is a matter of faith, and above reason.”

Bon Jovi was fatally compromised by his (its) collaboration with American Idol, although I can't help but suspect he's a good guy, although his music, for me, is unmemorable. My own impression is that the concert was woefully short on real musical talent. The Farm Aid shows, if anything objectively more ridiculous, were sometimes pretty entertaining with Willie and all. Where was Bruce Springteen, for example, who's served many a Hollywood cause? He may be old, but he's good. Madonna is just old. So I don't take ideological satisfaction at the artistic failure of this thing, truth to tell.

I just want to know what ever happened to growing old gracefully . . . When "artists" make a living appealing to the young (and not with eternal, but fleeting things), I suppose it is a hard thing to do. Still, there is a need to adapt with age. Madonna writhing around on stage like she did when she was 22--at her advanced age--is just . . . well, it's embarrassing. Even if you grant that she has done a good job of keeping her figure . . . please. It's worse, in a way, because you know she's working 5 times as hard as the average 22 year old to keep it up--and the result is still not as satisfactory. Just stop already. If she could actually sing, I guess she might have done this. That she is not doing it says something--as Peter noted--about her talent. Can't support him though on the Springsteen front . . . how many ways can the man sing the same song? Athletes retire. Why don't these guys?

This is a silly discussion, because anyone who likes music doesn't even bother tuning in to crap like this benefit concert. The best way to raise money for a cause would be to just have the show and quietly donate a small portion of the proceeds after the fact. As it's already been mentioned, GoreAid/GreenAid/Live Earth/whatever is just a bunch of old, forgettable people trying not to be forgotten.

Andrew wrote: "The best way to raise money for a cause would be to just have the show and quietly donate a small portion of the proceeds after the fact."

Again, I doubt very much that raising money was the objective. First, the smallest government grant would easily dwarf whatever they might have raised from this, even had it been successful. So if money was the objective than going the government subsidy route would have made more sense. Second, tens of millions of dollars are raised easily through far more private high-donor affairs. Putting on a huge high-overhead thing such as this is, at best, an inefficient way to raise funds.

There was another motivating factor here. Earlier I mused it was Gore's ego, but that was, I confess, somewhat flippant and uncharitable. But I'm now serious -- there was something that sparked the creation of this thing, and money wasn't the real reason. It might be said to be the reason, but I doubt it really was.

I can't help but feel the pain of the fifty-something rock star. The professor of the same age gets to blather on and on. And on Bruce: It's true enough that he's not writing 'em like he used to. But his live performances are still great. I do see there's something to the all his songs sound the same point, but only something. And if the concert had featured him and Rod Stewart and Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt and John Fogerty etc. etc. the ratingw would have been just fine.

For many it is a "religion". The essential issue of guilt management is at its core; all the trappings of works righteousness are present . . . For most there is the comfort of ritual -- recycling, devotion to organic food. Take a look at how religions are practiced today and you'll see very similar things.



Oh geez, Don. You're kidding, right? Just replace a few of the words in the omitted lines of that quote ("the deity is the company itself") and we could call capitalism a religion too. Most of the people who recycle, eat organic food, etc. are no where near practicing paganism. They just think the earth is worth preserving, even when that conflicts with national/individual interests. Leave the religion BS out of this, please.

Ok, Ms. Ponzi, rather than address any of my points you keep shooting those same, now dead, fish in the barrel. So Madonna is embarrassing because she's quite fit for her age, and writhes around, according to your accounts. What of it? And Springsteen singing the same song? Well, Reagan was happy to co-opt the laughably inappropriate "Born In the USA" for his '84 campaign, as was Bob Dole in '96. Anyone who's actually listened to more than that one album, or the hits from it, knows that his songs have varied widely over his career. What really bothers you is that these musicians agreed to take the stage to support a cause -global warming- that you either think is non-existent, or is not worth any substantial concern, that it is overhyped. If these same artists took the stage for an AEI or Asbhrook "Concert for Free Enterprise and 'Liberty'" you'd be happy to take your portion of the proceeds, surely, and the criticisms of their age and their singing voices would fade out entirely.

Matt ... no, I'm not kidding. The practice is not nearly as overt as you seem to think I'm implying. But it's there, particularly for those who are more "serious" about environmentalism.

The idea of environmentalism taking on the trappings of religion is not my idea. Google around ... you'll see more than a few references to the concept.

Only the most extreme environmentalists speak of it as a religion. But a vast majority of others have taken it on a ritualistic expression of commitment and responsibility. "Nature" and "the Environment" becomes a kind of unspoken "god" to them, though as I mentioned, few would call it that.

This "paganism" isn't limited to just environmentalism. You're right about that.

The whole thing was an opportunity to sell iPhones.

Perhaps also, now that I think of it, to woo conservatives with the ancient rock stars. Kids (along with the rest of the world outside the US) take global warming for granted; American conservatives are the only ones left who don't, and they skew older. Maybe Roger Waters is the only way in.

I give Gore and Co. extra points for securing the services of Spinal Tap, who were an ironic comment on the whole enterprise as well as a rockin' good time. Tap into America!

Well, Reagan was happy to co-opt the laughably inappropriate "Born In the USA" for his '84 campaign, as was Bob Dole in '96. Anyone who's actually listened to more than that one album, or the hits from it, knows that his songs have varied widely over his career.

I've always thought that one was funny. Here he was, writing this sneering, cynical song, and it gets turned into a patriotic anthem. Too bad for Springsteen that it's hard to make out what he's actually singing--maybe that'll teach him not to mumble so much in his vocals. On the other hand, it's probably great for him. I don't recall that the Boss turned down any of the royalty money that came from the use of his song by the Reagan and Dole campaigns. The GOP's money is as green as anyone's after all.

"On the other hand, it's probably great for him. I don't recall that the Boss turned down any of the royalty money that came from the use of his song by the Reagan and Dole campaigns. The GOP's money is as green as anyone's after all."

Are you joking? Firstly, the idea that artists actually receive royalties every time their song is played at a picnic or before a campaign speech or whatever is silly. It's highly unlikely that they are even aware of 90% of the non-commercial public airings of their material. In any case, I think the issue is more about intellectual property rights than it is about the puny royalties that could possibly be reaped.

Secondly, as Springsteen told both Reagan and Dole to cease and desist, it could also be understood that he was simultaneously passing up the pittance in royalties he might have been able to claim if he was the shameless whore you suggest. See here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/soldonsong/songlibrary/indepth/bornintheusa.shtml

"Ex-US president Ronald Reagan attempted to co-opt the song – and Springsteen's support – for his '84 re-election campaign, an act that Springsteen was at pains to distance himself from. And when Republican White House contender Bob Dole used "Born In The USA" on his campaign trail in 1996, Springsteen wrote to his local newspaper to make clear that he was not backing the Republican ticket."

And more here:

http://www.langston.com/Fun_People/1996/1996BWB.html

"Yesterday,
Springsteen faxed a statement to the local newspaper, the Asbury Park Press
through his publicist. It reads: "Just for the record, I'd like to make
clear that (the song) was used without my permission and I am not a
supporter of the Republican ticket." W. Drew Kastner, a Westfield attorney
who specializes in entertainment copyright law, says the Dole people
probably didn't even think of the intellectual property aspects. Kastner
says some "young bucko" probably thought he was hitting a home run with the
song. Kastner also said that Springsteen probably would never sue a
presidential campaign for a one-time copyright infringement... Says Alex Pearlstein, 'He was
especially incensed that they played the song while tearing up a hot-dog
vendor's green card.'"

and here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._presidential_election,_1984

"At a campaign stop in Hammonton, New Jersey, Reagan said, "America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts. It rests in the message of hope in songs of a man so many young Americans admire, New Jersey's Bruce Springsteen." The Reagan campaign briefly used "Born in the U.S.A." as a campaign song, without permission, until Springsteen, a lifelong Democrat, requested that they stop."

See that - "without permission." The claim that he was happy to let his song be politically misappropriated for a few dollars is about as laughable as the notion that Michael Moore is cynically profiting from Americans experiencing problems with their health and their health insurance (or lack thereof).

But I won't argue that Live Earth, at least artistically, was a "big stinker," as Ms. Ponzi said. But then what of events like Sean Hannity's (note the BIG picture of Sean!!) Freedom Concerts? Are we now more free because of them? LeeAnn Rimes (yes, she sings "Blue"!), Lee Greenwood....Montgomery Gentry? And Oliver North! Come on.

http://www.hannity.com/freedomconcert07/index.htm

Oh, my mistake. I didn't realize that after getting free publicity from having his music played at GOP campaign events, he got his name in the papers again by publicly distancing himself from the GOP. Poor guy....

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