Do They Know It's Offensive?

Do They Know It's Christmas? - Allison, Kevin & Friends

When Allison and I recorded our Christmas CD last year, we invited a bunch of our friends to join us on the holiday song featuring all of your favorite 80s artists, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" While everyone was familiar with the tune, other than the chorus, we all needed the karaoke track lyrics to do the verses. And I think it's fair to say we were actually shocked by how offensive the words really are.

"Do they know it's Christmas time at all?" Given that the majority of Africans aren't Christian, the better question is whether they even care. And then the lament "there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time" is absurd. If it snowed, the residents would probably freeze and be ill-prepared to deal with it.

Even though the song raised money for Ethiopia specifically, the lyrics merely refer to "Africa" as a singular place, thus contributing to the ignorant misconception that Africa is a country. On top of that, they make it uniformly sound like a hellhole. According to the lyrics, Africa is "a world of dread and fear, where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears. And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom."

The worst part might be Bono's sole line, "Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you." Um, how about not "thanking God" that other people are starving? That's a pretty awful thing to be thankful for. Anytime someone refers to Bono as a humanitarian, I wish someone would counter by playing his heartfelt take on such a cringeworthy lyric.

Look, it's nice that the song raised a lot of money for famine in Ethiopia, but how cool would it be for me to donate to a charity while saying, "This is because you suck and are hopeless without me." Why not just spit on the check?

I can't believe that celebs like Sting and Duran Duran didn't object to the un-PC words. In a sign that the artists aren't remotely aware, I direct you to wikipedia's awesome behind-the-scenes story that says Boy George called George Michael "camp" at the recording. Talk about a ridiculously catty pot/kettle moment.

Merry Christmas, everybody! Especially you, Africa, because boy do you need it!

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