Celebrity Geopolitics and Live Aid

Live Aid reunited the top Rock and Pop artists of the time which is indubitably what gave the event such an outreach. Celebrity geopolitics are very useful in examining this phenomenon.

Celebrity geopolitics treats of the impact that the involvement of celebrities in geopolitical issues can have. It triggers the population’s interest on a specific issue and reaches a broader audience  when such issues are vehiculed by celebrities themselves without the bias of competent politicians. Indeed, celebrities that take action for geopolitical issues tend to raise awareness to these questions in an unprecedented manner. Dittmer and Grey argue that this is key especially since it allows such issues to be discussed and understood outside of the political or academic sphere. Celebrities tend to create a feeling of proximity that everyday people don’t necessarily find with politicians, notably because of the complexity of the political discourse compared to how easy it is for celebrities to communicate with their fans through tools such as shows, magazines and above all social media.

In the case of Live Aid, the large audience of both shows as well as the home viewers allowed a broader awareness of the situation in Ethiopia and the money raised by the concerts and donations show the reach of celebrities compared to political/media discourse that never had the same result, even though the issues in Ethiopia were discussed in the political sphere and experienced media coverage.

On the other hand, the use of celebrities that were actually mainly celebrities in the Western world is symptomatic of the western-centred view of humanitarian aid: it is understood that money can be raised in the West because this is the most developed part of the world and thus where the population actually has the ability to aid. But that also means that it creates a one-sided channel of humanitarian aid where the flow is from the West towards Africa. As a result, it is Western money raised by Western organisms that goes towards Africa.

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