Saturday, 1 August 2009

I have an irrational hatred of Telethons

The fifteen years since NZ's last Telethon have made us nostalgic. We seem to have lost sight of the fact that Telethons actually suck. Oh, how they suck - 23 hours of tepid celebrities and airwave clogging suckage. When I was 10 or 11, my little friends and I tried to stay up all night to watch the Telethon. Despite being hyped up and high on sugar, the excitement of watching folks morris dancing in Taihape at 1am wasn't enough to keep us awake.

A friend of similar age to me had a somewhat more exciting Telethon story (he used to think that the Telethon song went 'Thank you very much for your kind old Asians', but that's not the exciting part of the story). He'd gone to the studio where the live action was being filmed - and during the celebratory conga dance thing they do when there's a new fundraising total, Tom Bradley accidentally kicked him in the nuts.

Irrational hatred aside, there's something about the upcoming Telethon, TV3's Big Night In, that is a cause for genuine unease. It's to benefit Kid's Can, a charity which aims to address child poverty and 'make a tangible difference in the lives of 42,000 disadvantaged children across New Zealand'. It's deeply sad to me that the wellbeing of children has been relegated to 23 hours of school kids' garage bands and minor celebrities carrying out silly dares for five dollars a time. To me, this Telethon is an undignified admission that we no longer have a welfare state affirming children's right to live free of poverty. It's as though Tom Bradley has kicked our whole society in the nuts.


Brett Dale said...

If anything raises money for charity, then I think its a good idea.

AWicken said...

Private charity is a less-bad idea than no assistance whatsoever.

Adequate government funding is a good idea

Anonymous said...

Considering how well funded private charity is around the world, ignoring it would be stupid.

I know you lefties want the rich to pay for everything, but you've scared off most of the rich people from NZ. Then you voted to tax the workers more and more over the years... I am unsure what your final solution is!

Anonymous said...

And no Government in living history has created wealth AWicken.

Giving citizens more of their wages back is the single biggest wealth creation programme ever. Imagine working hard every day and getting MORE of the fruits of your labour? No wonder productivity is going down... why work when the Govt wants more and more of your money?

Anna said...

What 'private charity' are you referring to, Anon. Foodbanks around the country are badly short of goods, and other charities are having difficulty seeking donations (private or corporate). Trusts that rely on revenue from investments have taken the same hit from the collapse of the financial markets as everyone else.

Ange said...

You're surely kidding ... when have we ever had a welfare system that resulted in the complete absence of child poverty?? And the "23 hours of school kids's garage bands and minor celebrities" quip? Does the rest of the work done by Kids Can, and the Community Ministries, and the countless other agencies and charities that operate in this area, count for nothing? I'm no fan of telethons, but I'm chuffed that TV3, for one, is getting behind this.

Anna said...

I don't believe that the welfare state elimated poverty, but it's stated intention was to give a reasonable standard of living to all. (It failed badly in respect of some groups, and it's important to acknowledge that.) The people behind Kids Can no doubt have their hearts in the right place. However, ensuring kids have adequate food and clothing shouldn't be work for volunteers - I believe the state has a responsibility to children that it can't opt out of. A kid shouldn't have to rely on someone's philanthropy to have enough to eat.

AWicken said...

Private charity has proved much more inadequate at solving poverty than state intervention.

Private charity also discriminates much more in favour of "cute and cuddly" - *child* poverty rather than *adult* poverty, pandas rather than obscure insects or worms.

The solution to such issues requires consistent national resolve via the state, rather than a half-arsed event for one charity or another every few years.

A Nonny Moose said...

"Private charity also discriminates much more in favour of "cute and cuddly" - *child* poverty rather than *adult* poverty, pandas rather than obscure insects or worms."

Breast cancer in favour of less romantic cancers. Save the boobies, but can't be arsed to save your arse cancer.

"I know you lefties want the rich to pay for everything, but you've scared off most of the rich people from NZ."

I'm always so thoroughly amused by the people who think we should pay less tax. I'm wondering where you think our health, education, welfare et al systems are supposed to come from? Thin air?

Our tax rates are not unreasonable. But then again, I don't think the likes of what Sweden pay in tax is unreasonable either - if I got full health care, welfare and education, I wouldn't be bitching one bit.

Julie said...

In a similar, but significantly less painful, Telethon brush with fame, I was knocked over at the airport by Blair Underwood when he came here for one years ago.

I do get sucked in by the excitement of Telethons, but I think that's more because it's real people doing real stuff, live, and we don't see that very often on our screens these days. As the hours tick by the stage-managing unravels and that's a good thing.

But I'm very very disappointed that this Telethon seems to be aiming to go 23 hours without asking the real question - Why do we need KidsCan at all?

Anonymous said...

A charity raised money for kids. Kids who need support. They are not gonna care where the money is coming from, just that they have jackets, shoes, breakfast. I teach at a high school and everyday I see kids who don't have the basics. Can we just not be happy that those in need have been helped in some way?