A few years ago, when I started this award winning site, one of my very first efforts was a lengthy, some might say bloated, piece about the then fad for the fantastically shit ‘ice bucket challenge’ which went on to discuss the general failing of big charity organisations. It should come as no surprise when I say that my view on ‘big’ charity has not improved. Indeed a flurry of events and scandals over the last 24 months has only served to prove me right. Which makes me glow inside. I still think that the troubles of the world – the disease and pestilence, war and famine, ignorance and poverty constitute a vast, whopping great ocean and that all our charity efforts (not strictly ‘our’ because I don’t really bother any more, do you?) are just a rusty trickle of piss, fruitlessly pushing against a raging tide of misery, diluted and diluted into less that nothing for all time.
Can no-one in charge admit that we’ve done too many bad things over too long a period of time to ever make things better again? Or admit that God is never, ever going to step in and sort it all out?
The fact seems to be that by the time all this big money gets filtered through the system and everyone else gets their cut the impact is so minimal that it was barely worth trying in the first place. It’s a daft butterfly trying to fuck a rhino. And what’s worse is that everyone ends up feeling bad if we don’t make enough of an effort. This of course all comes off the back of Comic Relief last Friday and which is an event that, I would humbly argue, had entirely run out of steam. The comedy bit has almost totally ceased to exist (Alan Partridge in clown shoes being the one exception) and the only relief involved is knowing that there are plenty of other channels to switch to once you’ve realised how much of your life is being spent badly.
What strikes me as most awful about Comic Relief is that it is totally disproportionate in its delivery of message and entertainment. Clearly it has to show endless features on kids with cleft palates and gout and malnutrition and so on, but surely if you want to get people hooked you need to make them a suitably substantial offer in return. We hung about on false promises for quite a bit last Friday night for a ‘Four Weddings’ revisit that was roughly as funny as having a cleft palate, gout and malnutrition all at the same time. The original film is pretty slight anyway, slight yet entertaining, but the update was a poorly executed exercise in, well…..er, nothing really. It had no shame or humour and absolutely no artistic value whatsoever and that is simply not a good enough reason for me to ‘pick up the phone and pledge as much as you can tonight’. You might think it at least was worthy as an effort to highlight the fact that women can now marry each other but that frankly felt like a bit of an insult; as if everyone watching Comic Relief had been sleeping under a rock for the last 5 years. But why not use Sam Smith to punch home the LGBTQ point just in case?
And as for the ‘Bodyguard’ sketch well that succeeded only in introducing me to a show I had never seen and then convince me that having not seen it was nothing to worry about. Ever. I suppose it gives me a few hours to do something else in. Very charitable.
Apparently Comic Relief only made £63 million this year and I bet they’d love to tell us all how disappointing that is and that you’d better make more effort next time. Some of the blame goes to all this ‘white saviour’ crap and that has made things a touch more problematic. If I had my way I would send Ed Sheeran, Ben Elton, Lenny Henry (who is, notably, not strictly speaking a white saviour), Sam Smith and Joanna Lumley and every other part time do-gooder out there with all their money and just let them live out the rest of their years clinging to an African baby in a village drenched in the blood of a bitter civil war. But on the other hand have none of these pricks ever considered that other people value their own dignity too? Perhaps the easiest thing to do would just to give them the money and let them make their own decisions, but we’re so arrogant that we can’t let go of that much control.
These charity types can’t just do a nice thing. They want to do a nice thing and then be seen to do a nice thing and then to have people say how wonderful they are for being so nice and giving up their valuable time in between learning lines, appearing on The Graham Norton Show and doing fuck all. Chuck in a first class flight to Angola or the taxi fare to a Ricketts clinic in Harrogate and give them some free publicity and they’re proper up for it. That doesn’t look like charity: it looks like ego. And I don’t like it. In my vision of a perfect world we’d start by having the 1000 richest people in the world give half their money away to the 1 billion poorest and then go from there. It might not necessarily make things much better but I can’t imagine how it could make things a lot worse. Who cares, it won’t happen and besides, that suggestion would open another can of worms. But at least then I wouldn’t have to worry about watching comprehensively, spectacularly unfunny crap interspersed with clips made to make me feel bad. Trust me – if big charity is working then it’s still got a long way to go.
G B Hewitt. 20.03.2019
Of course I’m being too mean but buried deep down in all the above I think I may have made a couple of points that could float for a few rounds. Just like a butterfly.