New Internationalist

Pass the sick bag (again) it’s Gary Barlow!

Watch this if you will. It seems Gary Barlow (I gather he’s some kind of singer) has dredged the bottom of the cringe bucket and come up with this:

We get the message. The people of the world are one big happy family and all we need to do is sing together – and rope in Andrew Lloyd-Webber, some military wives and members of the dopey royal family to boot. All jolly good fun!

Never mind that worldwide an estimated five million people die from starvation every year. Or that vicious wars are being fought out in the Majority World killing and maiming thousands of innocent people (with weapons often sold to them by the West). Or the millions suffering from AIDS. Or the millions that suffer and die from curable diseases: malaria, tuberculosis, acute lower-respiratory infections. And on, and on… Well, I’m not sure they have much to sing about.

But that’s all too depressing isn’t it? We don’t want to hear about those horrors, it brings the mood down. After all, it’s Jubilee year. Let’s be happy, let’s sing together and hope all the bad stuff goes away.

Oh, and before I get accused of being a killjoy I’d like to make clear I love music. I just hate the sanitized, saccharine bile on view here that does nothing to get to the truth about the world we inhabit and the terrible injustices but does everything to enhance the careers of pampered pop stars and millionaires and promote the myth that the royal family are just like us. After all, as Cameron and company like to tell us: we’re all in it together.

As an antidote to this pap I urge you to watch this:

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  1. #1 Giedre 29 May 12

    It is pretty ugly indeed, Alan. I wonder if those smiling children - and adults - were paid for their contribution to Gary's royal video, or was their payment the sheer ’pride’ of being in it?

  2. #2 Alan 29 May 12

    I guess it was just the 'honour' of appearing in the film?

    All I know is that it is heart breaking watching John Trudell's film - and listening to his words. I want everyone to watch THAT... to see the harsh, brutal reality. To see the truth. Not the sugary, Gary Barlow version of life which is a grotesque lie.

    But sadly, we know what most people would prefer to watch and listen to...

  3. #3 Scott 31 May 12

    Pass the sick bucket, indeed. Gary Barlow's pantomime of We Are The World (an equally silly bit of musical pablum from an earlier era) would certainly deserve a Best Musical Production statuette if a Therisenstadt Film Festival existed and handed out awards for ’Most Misleading Nonsense in a Musical Video’. After watching this dreck, one would almost come away with the impression that not only are Third World residents really Just Like Us after all... at least, provided they weren't Muslims... but that they are also quite nicely and colorfully dressed, as well as apparently happy and well-fed. Just make sure the crying mothers and the skeletal children dying of some otherwise easily treated water bourne disease are kept out of the frame, and it's all good.

    Of course, the reality of it all is that enough Third World inhabitants die of preventable causes each year to fill up a New York or a London at least twice over, and we're not even counting the war zones deaths here. Just the regular ones.

    John Trudell's music video is in stark contrast to Barlow's bit of feel-good nonsense, explicitly showing the carnage of Third World warfare in particular. Warfare supplied by a First World military industrial complex all too happy to sell and profit from everything needed to accomplish these atrocities. The latest statistics available show the US is ranked first in global arms sales, followed closely by Great Britain at number five. It's not the sounds of happy children singing we're really supplying here. It's something quite different, as Trudell's piece so horribly illustrates.

    But let's not dwell, for example, on the American Coalition's bombing of the Baghdad water treatment plant in the First Gulf War, even though it didn't constitute a legitimate military target to start with, or the later embargo of chlorine needed to purify drinking water during the following decade of Sanctions, and the deaths which resulted from a lack of proper sanitation and safe drinking water. Let's instead, as Alan Hughes states, get some pampered pop stars, some military wives, and a Royal or two to distract us with some shiny, happy glitter instead. After all, it's both a Jubilee and an Olympic year. Let's not focus on unpleasantness now!

    And speaking of pampered billionaire pop stars... there's the perhaps apocryphal story about U-2's front man, Bono, which has it that during a concert he began to slowly clap his hands while telling the audience that ’Every time I clap my hands, another child in Africa dies!’ And from out of the crowd, a voice shouted ’Then stop clapping your bloody hands!’

    Let's stop clapping our bloody own hands over feel-good Prozac music ourselves. A genuine musician/songwriter, Paul Simon, cynically summed it up best over two decades ago when he sung that... these are the days of miracles and wonder', when describing the carnage of a radio-controlled bomb blast in some Third World hell-hole... where precious little dancing and singing probably ever took place.

  4. #4 Dave 03 Jun 12

    The world is a miserable place. But for at least a few moments, Gary Barlow has show that there is a common thread and that no matter our color OR circumstance, we can revel in the moment.

    Beauty, and hope, is found even in the largest slum in the world.

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About the author

Alan Hughes a New Internationalist contributor

Alan Hughes was a graphic artist at New Internationalist. He retired in 2014. He is a life-long socialist and trade unionist and is currently involved in the Keep Our NHS Public Campaign. He is passionate about The Beatles and has supported Aston Villa FC for over 50 years. He lives in Oxford with his daughter.

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