Yesterday, Ariana Grande and her pals came back to Manchester to do a benefit concert for the victims of the Manchester bombing a few weeks back. I read a Rolling Stone article today talking about the event. According to the writer, there was more hope than fear and a true feeling of unity among the concertgoers. The performers gave heart-felt speeches about not giving into fear and turning to love instead. Those are great messages and I’m glad that a benefit was put together to help out the victims of the terrorist attack that occurred at Ariana Grande’s original concert. However, what did this benefit concert really accomplish? Are singing and performing pop hits going to raise the dead or prevent further attacks? The intentions behind these kinds of acts are good, but they really are not accomplishing anything more than a light atonement for the atrocities that seem to be occurring across the world daily.
I’m reminded of an episode of South Park where all the hippies come into town and hold a concert to solve all of the world’s problems. Stan and Kyle buy into the hype of using love to change the world, but then quickly realize that all the hippies want to do is smoke weed and talk about changing the world without actually doing anything. I feel that this concert was almost identical to that hippie concert. We had Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and others get up on stage and talk about how love can cure all the world’s problems. That would be a great idea to buy into if only it were true. We cannot forget that less than 24 hours before these statements were made, a van mowed down civilians in London and the assailants decided to up the ante by going on a little stabbing rampage afterwards. Sounds like these guys forgot to get their tickets to the show.
Like I said earlier, the intentions behind these acts are good, but I feel that these celebrities just don’t get what the common man and woman are facing in modern society. It’s easy for a celebrity to preach about love and acceptance when they’re surrounded by armed bodyguards and live behind gated mansions in gated communities. They are insulated from the terrorism that is inflicted upon the commoners. You think Katy Perry is grabbing the train to catch Ariana Grande’s show? You think Justin Bieber is walking across London Bridge to get to where he needs to go? At the end of the day, it feels good to go to a concert like this. It feels good to talk about love and believe that it really can conquer all. However, love is not going to stop the increase of terrorism across Europe. Simply because something sounds and feels good, that doesn’t mean that the sentiment is actually accomplishing something.
I’d buy more into this One Love Manchester movement if Ariana Grande suddenly started to advocate for more counter-terrorism training for law officers and security guards. I’d be really impressed if Katy Perry put up money to various state departments in order to beef up vetting procedures for people coming into various countries. If Justin Bieber told his fans to take self-defense classes to lessen their chances of becoming victims, then I’d start to pay attention. It’s easier to get up on stage and do a little dance than to put in the effort to advocate for a position. Celebrities enjoy a higher status in society and hold influence over the population. If these celebrities actually made concrete efforts to bolster the resources available to those fighting against terrorism, then maybe their fans would follow suit and we might actually see some changes. Simply getting the crowd to raise their hands as a symbol of hope and defiance is not going to stop some nutcase from blowing themselves up two blocks down the road.
Maybe I’m taking a highly unpopular opinion by being disappointed with this whole benefit concert thing. After all, these kinds of events make people feel really good. But I don’t see any changes. Attacks keep happening across England and Europe. Families are being torn apart. Innocent people are being caught in the crosshairs of a battle that some politicians aren’t willing to acknowledge. In my mind, these events are just distractions. People go to them, put in their donations, hold hands, maybe shed a few tears, and then they go home. If we want to see real change, the people are going to have to get out in the streets and call their policy makers to act as opposed to going to pop concerts.
I really hope that we see some change. I really hope that people can feel safe again. I really hope we don’t have to see a 2017 Benefit Concert World Tour. I’m not a big fan of pop music anyway.