Imagine a world where some of the occupants are rich – they own beautiful houses, drive around in sumptuous cars, wear clothes cut from the finest materials, eat food grown in perfect conditions – and some of the occupants are desperately poor – they live in shacks made from cardboard and corrugated iron, walk miles to fetch water, wear rags and eat what they can find. This is our world; and to resolve this dreadful inequality, the rich allocate one day a year to carry out all manner of ridiculous and bizarre activities, for which, other rich people give them money, so that they in turn can donate it to the needy. Sounds idiotic doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
While some people treat Comic Relief like Christmas Day, I have never enjoyed it. Even as a child I remember thinking it slightly barmy and, as I’ve aged, the faintly absurd has morphed into the generally repulsive. I find the whole charade in bad taste and I hope in years to come that I’ll be proven right and will be able to look back with the same cringing realisation I get from watching old racist films (which I do all the time). If you are about to stop reading in protest, UNDERSTAND THIS: I don’t think Comic Relief is a bad thing – I think it does a lot of good. I only dislike the manner in which it achieves the good.
They say the ends always justify the means and maybe this is true, but to me, Comic Relief signifies a purposeful detachment from the horrible realism of the world. We, the Comic Relief viewers, are so far removed from the grim realities of poverty, famine, genocide, AIDS etc, and also ignorant to the causes of such atrocities, that we can only be forced to confront images of pot bellied African children dying of malnutrition if they are neatly spliced between jokes and banter.
We have grown spineless and ignorant – throwing out current affairs in favour of celebrity gossip. We have been raised to know only joy and, as such, we refuse unhappiness. Today’s society is certainly better and fairer than those preceding it, but, through it’s infinite nurturing, it has alienated us from the truly desperate – severed and hidden the ugly. The closest most of us now get to poverty is buying The Big Issue! Wealth has made us indifferent and unaware of real problems, distracting us with the superfluous: designer sunglasses, 5 a day, iTunes, facebook updates, anti wrinkling cream . . . But, recent economic events have shaken our belief in the unfaltering mechanics of our society and, whatsmore, given us a taste of how it feels to be on the receiving end of a greedy and aloof elite.
The bankers (Yes I will mention them in everything I write – it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to.) washed their hands and exited the shit stink with little but a stray piece of toilet paper trailing from their shoes, leaving the rest of us to clean up the mess. This, in many ways, could be likened to our exit from colonial legacies and exploitation; the havoc we caused – which in many places, continues to this day – and the injustice of our unscathed departure, should draw dramatic parallels with recent history and coax the question from our hearts: “How must those people feel about us?” and as a corollary, “What can we do to make things right?”
If the banking sector had the prescience of mind to do anything other than claw and grab at the last few dollars flapping in the breeze, they would have realised that they could not only have redeemed themselves, but also resurrected our collective outlook. But they didn’t. Fred Goodwin elected to keep his annual £700,000+ retirement fund and, no doubt, many others have scuttled away with their swag bags – which is exactly what you expect from men who have dedicated their existence to chasing around money like well suited idiot savants.
So, with the possibility of a ‘second coming’ nigh becoming an apocalypse (but with more horseman), we must band together, not to vilify the wrongdoers, but to recognise the error of our ways and the ways of our ancestors, and use this turn in the zeitgeist as a catalyst to redress the balance. It’s time for a fairer society where people give out of duty and not to make themselves feel better. No longer can we remain ignorant to the struggles in faraway lands; no longer can we shy away from the unpleasant; no longer can we mask the world’s problems with comedy.