Julie Burchill: You've seen the footage. Now wait for the charity song

Thursday 17 March 2011 01:00

When I heaved my vast bulk on to my Stannah stairlift on Tuesday night and travelled serenely up the reinforced wooden hill to Bedfordshire, I was planning to get up in the morning and write about why I was sure there wouldn't be an all-star aid record in response to the sad events in Japan.

Imagine my selfish chagrin over my morning Complan when I read that Simon Cowell was planning this very thing, featuring the earth-straddling talents of Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber.

However, I was soon torn between sorrow and relief on finding out that this was probably a hoax as it had been announced on Twitter, and apparently Simon Cowell – like all people who have real self-esteem, rather than a tragically hollow narcissism which leads them to need affirmation of their very existence 24/7 – doesn't do Twitter.

But my despair was premature, as it was swiftly reported on About.com that "the pop music community has started to mobilise in the wake of the tragedy of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami". I love that "pop music community", don't you? The biggest collection of half-witted, self-obsessed, ocean-going tools outside of Hollywood and the House of Commons coming out for something other than one of those obscene goody-bags containing, I dunno, a unicorn with a Swarovski crystal horn or whatever they have to dangle to get those greedy cretins to show up. Can't you just imagine it!

"OK, Gaga, you're in charge of the food supplies – no, darling, you have to FEED it to them, not make a costume out of it! Sting, you can help rebuild the houses but PLEASE stop telling those people who have lost everything that Mother Nature always knows best. Campbell, you're on Counselling – DON'T keep hitting those homeless people over the head with your Swarovski crystal unicorn horn phone – it's not THEIR fault that your hotel room's not ready! What's that, Bono? – you want to donate a fiver, but you need to call your accountant first and find out the optimum benefit you can glean back from such generosity? And 50 Cent, you're in charge of raising morale – so keep telling those jokes!"

It's great that Gaga's prayer bracelet (motto: WE PRAY FOR JAPAN) has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars in aid in just 48 hours, but even a theology school drop-out like me can see that the reasoning behind it is ill-sorted, to say the least; if one believes in an all-powerful deity, it's unlikely that a bit of red and white plastic will give him pause for thought.

Elsewhere Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, P. Diddy, Rihanna and Chris Brown (that beacon of humanity...) have encouraged us to a) remember the country in our prayers (to a deity that Japan doesn't believe exists – culture clash ahoy!) and b) donate money. Looking at the amazing, some would say obscene, amount of money the likes of Mr Diddy (worth over $380m at last boast) spend regularly on spraying champagne over hotties on yachts, one does sincerely hope that the likes of him in the showbiz community are leading by example and that once again foreign aid will not turn out to be, to quote the economist Peter Bauer, "an excellent method for transferring money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries".

When that country is as rich as Japan – estimated somewhere between the third and 10th wealthiest in the world – the question of aid becomes even more questionable. Shouldn't the country's super-rich be forced to help their countrymen, especially considering Japan's long tradition of national pride and distrust of foreigners? Nevertheless, a less cynical side of me does wish there could be another Band Aid.

Looking at the video now, it's so beautiful to see how all these vast egos were able to crowd into a recording studio at a moment's notice – the pop-star equivalent of how-many-students-can-you-cram-into-a-Mini – and come up with a really great record. The early voices of the Georgie boys, O'Dowd and Michael, still take the breath away, and even Bananarama put their best foot forward (unlike their dancing, then) when they join in for the chorus, totally accepting that they barely have one voice between them and that when it comes to ensemble effort, they will forever be Shepherds One, Two and Three to the effortlessly scene-stealing Mary and Joseph of the Georges. Even Bono and Sting are bearable!

You can't imagine it these days; all those egos would never get into the same building without working out whose name would come above the title. Then one of them would stub their toe and need to Twitter about it, and Lily Allen would need a bulimia break, and Elton John would demand that all the women in the room should be taken out and shot for being mimey old tarts, and the moment would have passed. So this time around, I guess poor Japan will have to struggle by on the prayers and spare change of the pop music community.

The census is too short for my taste

Well, I'll fill the census in – but I'm NOT happy with it. SO short! And nowhere to boast how much one earns, how few paper qualifications one has, how many times one has been married and how one has never had to look at the price tags on anything for more than half a lifetime now...

In my old age I seem to get the same kick from honesty I used to get from deceit in my teens and twenties. I love to tell the truth about myself, no matter how grim. But I fear that I am in a minority, and that very many people live in a state of ceaseless self-deception about their motives and morals. It always makes me laugh when I see that online dating ad which claims that it matches people not on superficial things but on values and intelligence. Yeah, right – like anyone's going to fill it in saying "I'm a scrounging slut who'll sleep with anything when I'm drunk. Oh, and a liar!" You'll find more honesty on one of those nasty how-hot-am-I, adultery-aiding or nail-a-millionaire dating sites than you will on one of the allegedly wholesome ones.

But as I said, I love honesty, and if I wasn't so happily married I suppose I'd say something like GENTILE STOOGE SEEKS ZIONIST PUPPET-MASTER. OK, I'd be a minority taste. But at least I'd stand out!

Want to impress? Don't buy in Dubai

Ashley Cole is reported to be planning to win back Cheryl by investing in property in Dubai. Yep, nothing says I LOVE YOU like buying someone a house in a bankrupt country which was built on (to quote Johann Hari in this newspaper a couple of years back) "ecocide, suppression and slavery".

Where if you lose your job and get into debt, you are thrown into prison, after a trial in a language you can't understand. "This isn't a city, it's a con-job. They lure you in telling you it's one thing – a modern kind of place – but beneath the surface it's a medieval dictatorship," as the wife of a British man this happened to told Hari.

A place where foreign workers and women have no rights, where homosexuality is punishable by a decade in jail, and where kissing on the beach can get you thrown in the clinker? What would a man who wooed one by buying a love-nest here plan to do to close the deal, one wonders?

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in