We’re in the thick of the holiday season, and plenty of atheists like me still celebrate Christmas, but in a non-religious way (like most Christians actually). My wife and I still acknowledge all of the secular traditions that come with Christmas — the tree, decorations, gift giving, Santa Claus, cookies, and of course, the music (some of it). This past weekend, we loaded our two boys into the car and headed to breakfast with Santa at our local firehouse, and then by some insane magic, saw the fat bastard again later in the day for the obligatory pictures with Mall Santa. Dude gets around.
Anywho, since we were in the holiday spirit and doing “Christmas-y” stuff all day, we had the Holly station from Sirius XM playing in the car. Every once in a while, this station plays a certain Christmas song that makes me seriously angry. And it’s not just because I hate Bono.
In 1984, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was recorded by Band Aid, featuring a collection of singers who were popular at the time. The song is essentially about raising awareness that not everyone is having a great Christmas, and while you’re whooping it up in your cozy winter home, there are starving people in Africa. If you’re unfamiliar with the lyrics, check them out here.
While art is always subject to individual interpretation, I think the lyrics of this song are dripping with privilege and it makes me want to punch Bono in the face even more than normal. Here’s where I’m coming from:
But say a prayer to pray for the other ones
It’s hard, but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
First of all, bravo on the shit poetry. But I digress. So they’re basically raising awareness to the Christmas celebrators in the West that there are people in other places who are suffering. Ok, fine. At this point, I’m expecting the song to shift to how we can help them (since prayer doesn’t do a thing). But alas…
And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
Yeah, we get it. It sucks in Africa (which is apparently a small continent with the same circumstances no matter what nation or region we’re talking about. Don’t worry, Americans won’t know the difference.) And then comes the line that causes me to imagine that right cross straight to Bono’s mouth…
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you
What the actual fuck?? So your God doesn’t do a damn thing for starving people in Africa, and you’re supposed to thank him? What kind of selfish narcissistic nonsense is that? It’s almost as bad as thanking God for surviving an accident that 100 other people died in. How about you donate to a charity to send them food, or support their refuge in another region, or something actually productive instead of praising your Western-privilege-awarding deity for feeding your gullet at the expense of others? Or if you think your magic man in the sky is listening, how about you have a come-to-Jesus meeting with him (pun intended), letting him know how disgusting it is that he’s letting his precious children die horrible deaths by the thousands?
All of these things would be a million percent better than praising a morally corrupt creator for forcing those made in his image to suffer inescapable conditions, while you pound spiked egg nog at your corporate holiday party, culminating in making some really bad decisions.
While we’re at it, let’s just toss in the last verse here to cap it off.
Here’s to you, raise a glass for everyone
Here’s to them, underneath that burning sun
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?
Yeah, cheers, starving people in the desert who don’t give a damn about our Christmas traditions. We know you don’t have any potable water, but raise your cup of bacteria-ridden water anyway. Just don’t drink it. Damn this nog is good. You should see how much food we threw out at this party.
Fuck you, Bono. And whoever wrote this travesty of a song.
Merry Christmas, everyone else.
EDIT: For those who are going to respond with “this song raised money for famine in Africa,” I contest that any song with this ensemble would have. The money raised was not due to the inspiring message of the lyrics. Just because the song raised money back in 1984 doesn’t make the lyrics less of a pile of shit. How much is it raising right now? Maybe if it had a more inspiring message, it would continue to compel listeners to donate to worthy causes instead of give thanks to a genocidal maniac.