The Magazine

‘We Are the World’

First time farce, second time .  .  .

Feb 22, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 22 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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After 9/11, there were concerts to raise money for the victims—few of whom seemed to need money. In 2005 came “Live 8,” followed in 2007 by Live Earth. By this point, concert organizers had given up the pretense of raising money, instead claiming they merely wanted to diddle the public’s consciousness. (About Third World debt forgiveness and global warming, respectively, in case you’ve forgotten.) 

It’s difficult to pin down exactly what such shows accomplish. The money raised is always minuscule in relation to the problems at hand. Put together, the proceeds from “We Are the World” and Live Aid wouldn’t be enough to save Chrysler, let alone the African continent.

But maybe it’s not really about the actual dollars and cents. The producer of Live Aid, Mike Mitchell, noted:


Africa was [a] kind of test for the civilized world. It was our souls that were at risk, not theirs. It’s a totally selfish act. I mean, they will go on being Africans, doing what they do and they will ultimately save themselves or not. But if we don’t reach out, we’ve already sealed our fate. We’ve lost our humanism. We’ve lost caring. We’ve lost what I call our souls.


Entertainment Weekly reported on the travails of caring with a sequence of vignettes from the “We Are the World” recording session:


[H]armonic convergence nearly fell apart, however, when Stevie Wonder announced the chorus would sing a line in Swahili. Some of the country singers were fit to be tied. Waylon Jennings walked out and didn’t come back. Finally a line in English was used instead. At 4 a.m. two Ethiopian women were escorted into the studio. “Thank you on behalf of everyone from our country,” one of them said.

Now we’ll be subjected to this rubbish all over again. Surely the people of Haiti have suffered enough.

Jonathan V. Last is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

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