Tonight George Clooney, someone I call a friend, hosts a telethon to raise money for the people and relief efforts in Haiti. Yes, this is entertainment which is why it's appealing, but why do we look forward to this event? The star power? The album from artists that will jam together for the first, and probably last, time ever?
ABC is giving this it's 8pm slot, pretty pricey airtime. If you call in to pledge a donation you could be on the phone with Tom Hanks. You can ask Tom to wave to you on the TV. Pretty cool, exciting stuff.
There's an old joke that goes like this…
A man dies and goes to heaven. St. Peter walks him around getting him aquainted with the place and he hears guitar playing and he says to St. Peter "is that Jimi Hendrix?" and St. Peter says "Oh yeah, this is heaven. he plays all day. You can sit in if you want." and the guy smiles big "my gosh that's a dream come true! I love that guy!" Then he hears the drums being played and says "Is that John Bonham?" and St. Peter says again "Yup, he plays all day. Gives lessons. You can sit in with him too." He walks a bit more and hears a saxophone playing and says " Is that Charlie Parker?" and St. Peter says " No, that's God, he just thinks he's Charlie Parker."
Is that Bono?
Is that Bruce?
Umm, yeah. They will be there, as they are always there, and they will be bringing their audiences awareness to the event. The cause. The fact that as artists we have the most influence. People sometimes knock them when "celebrities cross over" and get political and use their popularity to voice opinions about some current political situation. Why is this uncomfortable for the powers that be?
Because we have sway. And they know that. The next generation of minds are less tuned in to their political figures and more tuned into celebrities. People like George and Bono and Bruce and Madonna and
Jay-Z are using their celeb capital to influence the young mind that's only there for the fun, but will get a lesson about doing the right thing.
It's also an antidote to reality TV where the only goal is to do the meanest thing and win, win, win. Sorta like politics.
Consider how many of you watched the press conference where Obama introduced Clinton and Bush the 2nd as his task force to lead the US effort in Haiti. Besides the fact that George Bush is unwatchably bad at public speaking, it's not a talk being given by people that you trust to do what they say they are going to do. They've lost your trust. But here again is George assembling friends and standing up to say "something must be done" and you know why? Because it's the right thing to do. And you trust him because he's done it before and you didn't come to find afterward that he was actually stealing your trust for the sake of money. He did what he said he would do. Hmmm…integrity? Yeah, that's what real artists bring to the table.
Wouldn't it be cool if our leaders did things for no reason other than it was the right thing? Wouldn't it be cool to think that public policy was created out of doing the right thing?
Using your influence to bring a bigger picture to the world is maybe the best use of your art, ever.