Monday, July 09, 2007

Live Earth, What’s it Worth?

This past weekend the world was filled with the regalia of the Live Earth concert series which was supposed to be a rock event to mobilize the masses to fight global climate change. Now, all considerations of the effective strategies for fighting climate change aside, let’s just consider the actual message of the media used (oh, Marshall McLuhan would be thrilled to read that). At any rate, I am a huge believer in the ability of various media to be used with various messages, with that message dictating a great portion of the moral content of an event. However, I do not believe that this concert can do anything to mobilize those who are supposedly culpable for climate change.

The primary cause of any pollution (in the broadest sense) on the earth are somehow tied to a crassly-individual, irresponsible mentality which is additionally consumptive to the detriment of the world. Pollution is the byproduct of consumption in some form, and consumption is (blindingly brilliant in its observation) driven by individualism. Now, I think that neither individualism nor consumption are negative a priori, only when they are practiced in such a way that they cut people off from each other and from the totality of the cosmos. The Live Earth concerts, by using mass marketed music as the message-vector, spread a content far deeper than a message that “we can all save the environment.”

For one, it was a venue for contemporary western music which is highly individualistic (or even nihilistic) in its reception. This is primarily visible in the mob-like throng which waits, without much individual definition, at the feet of the stars. While I personally enjoy an experience of such a concert (particularly with a mosh pit), I don’t think at all that I should go to one if I want to inculcate an other-centered mentality. No, the “otherness” of the concert crowd is effectively a melting away into the great sea, with either a total loss of self (without regard for any other beings in the pit) or an acute awareness of one’s alone singularity. In either case, there is no other (and – hence – no whole) remaining, so there is no possibility of group action. The mob denies this possibility by cutting the individual off from all others. While such egoism is not directly concomitant with the concert mob, it is indeed the message of the mosh-pit’s media (once again, McLuhan would be giddy).

Need we really even think about how this plays up the consumerism of those attending the concert? Major rock stars, at a venue with flashy lights, and a former vice president, all available with tickets for sale. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is a consumerist’s pleasure stop. One is able to fall into the trap of following the mob of consumers precisely because it is fashionable to consume such entertainers all for self-centered motivation and not to do anything constructive. The concert promotes thoughtless consumption and thus undermines its own message by such promotion. Once again, consumption is not a negative thing a priori but must always be done truly for the greater whole (no matter what the mob may dictate is “fashionable”).

Now, I only have a cursory knowledge of the event as a whole, so I will stop my pontificating at this point. However, as I watched the news last week, I couldn’t help but have these brief reflections on the topic. It is preposterous to think you can fight consumerism with the crassest of all consumerism; it is unconscionable to think you can fight unthinking, uncaring individualism with the worst kind of individualism. The very media of the concert venue destroys the message in this case because it is completely out of consonance with that message. The message we need is “Crass consumerism and individualism must stop! We must take up a new moral message, a new consumerism, a new individualism; we need a new venue for man’s action, a new dialogue of humans, a new embrace for all of humanity!”

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