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Who benefits from Red Nose Day?


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#1    pantodragon

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 04:48 PM

Supposedly this huge fund-raising day is for the benefit of the poor and disadvantaged people mostly in Africa and the UK.  I think the official name is still Comic Relief because it was started a fair number of years ago by comedians in the UK.  It is organised and run by the BBC, and huge numbers of people all over the UK take part, so it is a very public event.  Much of BBC programming is given over to the event throughout the day, and usually includes film following various famous people as they tour Africa and shed tears over the horrors of deprivation that they find there.

One thing is sure: it is certainly a HUGE feel-good event in the UK, but is anyone really benefiting from this – apart from the famous people who probably do as well out of appearing on Comic Relief as they do, (or used to do? Is it still on the go?) by appearing on Big Brother.  I remember one Big Brother house in which the actor Dirk Benedict appeared.  The occupants were challenged to produce a poem, and Benedict came up with the following:

There once was an actor called Dirk,
Whom everyone thought was a jerk,
Against the advice of his mother,
He entered Big Brother,
And now he’s turning down work!

It seems to me this about sums up Comic Relief, except that Comic Relief is rather less benign than Big Brother.

Charity has become big, and is becoming ever bigger, in the Western world, but this rides on the back of a change in attitudes towards charity.

It used to be considered a disgrace to accept charity, and an insult to be offered charity.  I can still remember that attitude being prevalent among the older folk when I was a child (the 1960s).  Then there are films like The Railway Children, made in the 1970’s, I think, which is set in the Edwardian era, which displays this older attitude to charity:  the children of the title arrange a birthday celebration for their friend, the man who runs the little, rural railway station.  They collect presents from various people in the village and lay them out on the table in the man’s house, a surprise for him when he arrives home.  However, when he sees the presents all laid out he immediately jumps to the conclusion that he is being given charity.  He instructs the children to remove all the presents immediately, and says he no longer wants anything to do with the children.  He is deeply insulted and feels his reputation in the village has been dragged through the muck.

Was this just a quaint attitude of older times, or was there something more behind it?  I think the latter.

The giving of charity is supposedly about concern for the welfare of other people.

I went to The Gambia on holiday in the 1980s, one of the poorest countries on Africa at the time.  I got to know several of the locals – not hard since many of them were all too eager to get to know whites, hoping for money or, better, a ticket to the West.

The poverty was shocking.  Not that one saw anything to weep over.  There was very little, apart from bad roads and lack of amenities etc to show.  The Africans that one saw around were healthy looking, at least as healthy looking as the white holiday makers.  The thing I noticed was that there were no old folks around.  I wondered if they were just ‘out of sight’.  Maybe they preferred to stay in their villages in the bush rather than stay in the urban areas.  Later I found out that life expectancy was 35 – so that’s why there were no old folk around.

One of our acquaintances was an ex-policeman of around 25.  He was very proud of the fact that he could read and possessed one book.  He lived in a compound that he shared with a number of other folk.  Each had one small room.  In his there was a foam mattress on the floor, a camping stove for cooking, and a hold-all that passed for wardrobe and chest of drawers.  Those were his entire possessions.  Water came from a well in the compound, and toilet was out-doors.  The buildings were constructed from bricks and had tin roofs – ovens, in other words.  For all he looked so healthy, he had an injury that had not been properly healed from his childhood that meant it was painful to lie down.  Also, he had malaria.  He spent most of his time hanging around the hotels trying to make friends with whites.  He did not disguise his intentions.  He wanted money to buy ju-ju to get himself another and better job.

Well, I could go on and on about the awful things I encountered in The Gambia, but the thing that stood out for me from all the rest was this: wherever we went, and whoever we talked to, all the Africans told us that whites were better than themselves.  It seemed obvious to them.  They saw all the things the whites had and just assumed that meant they had to be better.  I found this attitude more shocking than anything else I encountered.

The Africans had been robbed of, and had let go off, their self-respect, their sense of self-worth and their self-confidence.  If you do not have pride in yourself, do not respect yourself, then you will lose your ‘SELF’.  This is a devastating thing to happen to anyone.  There is an old Frank Sinatra song that I find myself quoting rather frequently:  I did it MY way.  In particular, the following lines: “for what is a man, what has he got, if not himself, then he has nought”.  On this basis, the Africans that I met had nought, nothing.  And no matter how much charity they were given, they would still have had nothing.  On the contrary, to give them charity would, it seems to me, do nothing so much as to maintain the real problem, the loss of pride in themselves.

In India, among Hindus, if I understand it aright, there is a different attitude to giving charity.  In traditional Hindu culture, it was customary, at least for men, to experience poverty.  Poverty, in itself, was no shame, and could be a CHOICE.  It was a matter of what one might call ‘the needs of the soul’.  In order to progress to higher states of being one might benefit from experiencing poverty, and from accepting charity.  On the other hand, in order to progress to higher states of being one needs also to experience the giving of charity.  Thus the giving and accepting of charity in India takes on a whole different colour: it is an affair that is of mutual benefit.  Both recipient and giver are doing it for their own good.  Thus there is no sense in which the giver is superior to the recipient.  There is no loss of respect, no loss of SELF.  Each is freely choosing to give or receive.  No-one is left beholding to the other.

This seems to me to be a much, much healthier attitude to charity, but it is not the attitude of Comic Relief.  To pity, or feel sorry for the recipient dis-respects them. To take the attitude that you are benefiting the other at loss to yourself, even if only of a little money, is to dis-respect them.  The people involved in Comic Relief love to show just how sensitive and caring they are by weeping buckets over the poor of Africa, all the time displaying these poor, like freaks at a freak-show, on TV.  And the audience duly take their cue from those attitudes.  It is a shameless display of emotional self-indulgence, and, in fact, it shows that these people are almost as short on self-respect as the Africans, and therefore, for all their greater wealth, are just as ‘in need’.

Then there is the attitude to charity that one finds on traditional Arab Cultures.  One sees examples of this in films such as the Ridley Scot film, The Kingdom of Heaven, a film based the time of the crusades to the Holy Land.  At one point one sees one of the Arabs giving a horse as a present to his European friend.  He says the horse is not a good horse, and he does not want to keep it.  Thus he gives the horse away as though it is something of no value, and therefore no gratitude is wanted.  In fact, taking this to extremes, an Arab might give a present in such a way as to make it seem as though the recipient is doing the giver a favour!  The recipient is taking something off his hands which he otherwise might just be causing the giver a lot of time and money to keep, and which he might have to go to some trouble to dispose of.  Thus the recipient is doing the giver a favour.

This seems to me to be the best way to give charity.  This way accords maximum respect to both giver and receiver.  Both benefit from the transaction.

The thing about Comic Relief is that those who are giving no more benefit, and, in fact, lose that which they cannot afford to lose, from the transaction.  The may get a huge feel-good, but the fact is that they are involving themselves in a transaction that benefits neither party.

I wonder if Comic Relief would be such a big event if the Great British Public had to adopt the attitude that the Africans were doing THEM the favour -- by accepting their charity?


#2    Eldorado

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 04:50 PM

Rudolph!


#3    Oscar77

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 05:29 PM

Those that profit the most are the b list "celebrities" that host it.
The rest of the money goes to some very questionable places,years ago it was found to be used to buy flashy cars and houses for whichever dictator ran that part of africa or weapons for the guy that wanted to be the next dictator.
These days it's a little better but not by much see here http://hurryupharry....tremist-groups/


#4    skookum

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:10 PM

I really think that the UK public should start winding down these events.

I am 99% sure that whatever money reaches those in desperate need is appreciated.  However I fear the overall view maybe perceived as Great Britain medal-ling in foreign affairs for some personal gain.  GB is no longer a major powerhouse in the world economy so I think that the worlds charitable needs should be passed on to the countries that have overtaken the GB's wealth and economy.

Does it not seem bizzare to anyone that the UK Government borrows money it doesn't have then gives it to somebody else.  

To me it is like them saying on Comic Relief, get a pay day loan then give it to us.  Either that or don't feed the kids and pay for a dictators new Merc.

Edited by skookum, 16 March 2013 - 07:22 PM.

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#5    stevewinn

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:24 PM

comic relief gets on my bloody nerves. the presenter Terry Wogan was exposed for being paid to host the event. for years this went on, and the cheek of millionaires singers/TV personalities etc...asking for the public to donate money is laughable and the fools do. every year even in times of recession the total raised increases year on year. - on the subject of charity/aid. i'd go by the motto charity begins at home and no money leaves these shores. - Foreign aid is just another name for a bribe/backhander. as for Africa. Africa got what it deserved. most forget but Rhodesia as it was called, use to be the bread basket of Africa. exporting food around the world. its was a leader in agriculture with crops being grown all year round, helping feed Africa. but in 1966 that all changed and the death knell of millions of Africans was sounded and continues to this day. - so now we have TV adverts of starving Africans i mean who wants to see that when eating your dinner. - then cue comic relief and all the other dross in the name of charity - apparently, if i give £2 pound a month i can provide clean drinking water. i think im with the wrong supplier because am paying £35. :hmm:  in the coming decades the Africans will be okay. the Chinese are looking after them. :no:

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#6    Eldorado

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:05 PM

If you're really interested, you can find out here.... http://www.comicrelief.com/how-we-help

Examples: Listening Ear (Merseyside  £117, 791  March 2012)
'Mental health problems affect one in four people at some point in their lives. Yet in many areas there is a lack of appropriate mental health services and many people are unaware of where to turn for help. Listening Ear Merseyside runs activity-based therapy sessions for young people aged 11-17 and counselling sessions for 18-25 year olds with mental health problems.'

Positive Futures (North Liverpool  £106,192  Jan 2011)
'PFNL run bespoke sport and development programmes for both young men and women who've been involved in anti-social and gang related behaviour. Both programmes are underpinned by training, education, personal development and community safety.'

Age Concern (East Cheshire £98,189  May 2010)
'Some older people can experience a whole range of problems, including loneliness and isolation, having no voice in important decisions that affect them, living in poverty and age discrimination.'


There are hundreds more similar projects throughout the UK.  If you look.  :)


#7    coolguy

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 06:31 AM

The money is goin in  somebodys Pocket and not the poor.
They had a hurrcaine sandy concerts on 12/12 they made millions.
And where did the money go not to sandy victims
It went to sombodys pocket.


#8    Bonecrusher

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 09:32 AM

I totally agree with Steve 100%.Charity indeed begins at home.Our attention must be directed inwards rather  than outwards.It wouldn't be good housekeeping if we didn't.If we totally ignored Africa in all our charitable endeavours we wouldn't even need to bother with this last Friday's Red Nose Day.However there is a catch 22.If we don't donate charity to third world countries the UK would get a bit of a rep as a selfish nation.So we'll be a pariah with nobody willing to import goods or trade with us.And our gas supply will be severely compromised.So regardless of Red Nose Day our Government will still insist on giving foreign aid out.It wouldn't be so bad if this foreign aid came in just the form of telethon fund raising.Besides isn't charity a kind of free debt?If it was up to me China should be permanent nursemaids of Africa.

Then again if you look at the Rich List of 2011 you'll find that Simon Cowell is worth 210 Million quid.And yet Red Nose Day is overflowing with his protégés.The last time I checked the total amount of this years Red Nose Day was 70 million quid.So that's a third of Cowell's wealth.If that deadpan snarker parted with a third of his combined riches he would ask for a Gambian Idol and Zimbabwe's Got Talent.Who needs interest when you can launch your brand on an other continent.

However I don't like how they conduct Red Nose Day anyway.They make us split our sides then put us on a guilt trip for doing so.And what happened to Lenny Henry and Griff Rhys Jones?All we get is a show presented by people who are clearly not comedians in the fullest sense of the word.I swore I saw Dermot O Leary on X Factor last year and I swear I will see him again on it at the backend of 2013.The African scenes get me as well.Using malnourished kids as prop's is very low.Especially when they have well fed celebrities holding then up.It's like the teddy bear in Drop The Dead Donkey.Same principle.

Edited by G Donnelly, 17 March 2013 - 09:39 AM.

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#9    cultanorak

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 05:43 PM

mediocre comedians seem to benefit from it a lot.

I always loathe the fascist attitude that this sort of programme seems to provoke by suggesting collectively we should all be interested and help out well I don't see what responsibility we have to raise money for African children and I don't see what right the BBC should have to ask for contributions of money from the public considering the millions they rob each year in the form of the television license.

Edited by yearofthehater, 17 March 2013 - 05:48 PM.


#10    pantodragon

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 03:32 PM

View PostEldorado, on 16 March 2013 - 09:05 PM, said:

If you're really interested, you can find out here.... http://www.comicrelief.com/how-we-help



Without going into whys and wherefors (because it would take too long) none of this is actually helpful.  None of this is actually addressing the problems.  On the contrary, this is maintaining the problems.


#11    pantodragon

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 03:36 PM

Did anybody actually read beyond the title of this post?  Certainly nobody has commented on the content.  Rather they have just gone off and answered the question in the old, hackneyed ways.


#12    Render

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 09:07 PM

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#13    ali smack

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 11:47 AM

I think that Comic Relief is a bad thing. It doesn't help the poor at all.I'd rather have George Clooney who flies over to countries and generally helps people. The same with Brad Pitt. He helps out as well.


#14    Wyrdlight

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 02:31 PM

The vast makority of money given in aid bleeds away to line to pockets of corrupt officals.

Recall reading a paper back at uni that of 5 thousand dollars given in aid to africa only 900 dollars arrived "ground level" where it was needed the rest melted away on bribes, erroneous fees, taxes, artfically inflated prices for goods and transport costs.

Aid works best from the bottom up not the top down.


#15    Child of Bast

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 03:10 PM

If you truly want to help others, giving of your time is just as valuable as giving your money. I think if more teens were required to volunteer somewhere as part of their high school education, their eyes would be open.

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