In the lede of Jonah Goldberg's surpassingly inane criticism of the Live Earth concerts, the author mocks a moment typical of just about all rock shows--when the artist works the crowd. In this case, Madonna exhorting the gathered masses to "jump" for Mother Earth. Goldberg terms it "canned juvenilia," as if that's some sort of insult. The essence of rock and roll, indeed, is kicky release, a little bit of feeling like a kid again. I wonder if he thinks the mobs of aging boomers who flock to Jimmy Buffet shows do so because they expect to see something on the level of Frost/Nixon.
Lacking much of anything else to say, Goldberg bends over backwards to portray the concerts as a venue for rock's elder statesmen to wring one last turn in the spotlight (and here I thought that heeding the wisdom of our elders was a conservative value!). Here, Goldberg means it as a criticism, but that's not the point: The point is, he's flat-out wrong. Goldberg completely ignores the fact that there were plenty of younger skewing acts on the Live Earth bill: Snow Patrol, Kasabian, Bloc Party, the Foo Fighters, Fall Out Boy, Kelly Clarkson, Kanye West, Joss Stone, Rihanna.
But really, Goldberg isn't that concerned with the age of the acts on the bill. Goldberg hated Live Earth even before it started, because of what it stood for: Environmentalism (coupled with "Rousseauian back-to-nature romance"), and evil, evil liberalism.
Is there even an attempt at a substantive argument? He does, at one point, attempt to manufacture some irony about the carbon footprint of Madonna and and the concerts themselves: "Considering the energy required to put on the show, the nine Live Earth concerts doubtlessly raised more CO2 than awareness." First: it's a pretty empty criticism--that the rockers are damaging the planet--when it comes from someone so well-nigh unconcerned with the environment in the first place. But Goldberg ignores the fact that the concert industry is only getting started down the road to reducing their environmental impact--a lengthy article in the July SPIN goes into great detail on the challenges he industry faces if they want to go green and the strategies that are emerging to meet those challenges. Here's something else Goldberg ignores: Daimler-Chrysler's sponsorship of the concerts--a fairly brazen bit of corporate greenwashing. But, then, did you expect Goldberg to risk any offense of the wonderful people in that company's boardroom?
Well, of course not. But the real question is, did you expect anything from Goldberg? As a substantive piece of on-the-ground criticism, his editorial is entirely empty--baldly ignoring some facts, pointedly demonstrating ignorance of others. Were it not for Madonna's exhortations, there wouldn't be anything in his piece that could not have been drafted a month ago. It wouldn't surprise anyone, in fact, if it turned out he had.
For Your Enjoyment:
Click on the YouTube link to enjoy Spinal Tap, and the Army of Bassists, performing "Big Bottom." If you cannot recognize the ineffable coolness of this performance--which alone firmly establishes the rock cred of the Live Earth concerts--then there's no helping you.