The challenge for Live 8 and Geldof
David Hepworth: "A different world since 1985."
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- "If something's going to change, it's going to involve shifts in the attitudes of governments."
So says David Hepworth, one of the anchors of Live Aid for the BBC concert and until this weekend, the man credited with broadcasting to the largest TV audience in history when he handed over on July 13, 1985, to Madonna.
Hepworth, ex-presenter of "Whistle Test." gave CNN's Mallika Kapur his analysis of the task facing Bob Geldof and Live 8 as well as his memories of helping broadcast Live Aid twenty years ago.
Kapur: Will Live 8 have less impact than Live Aid had, because it isn't a direct call for money?
Hepworth: I think the challenge will be the messages that they manage to communicate on the day and in the days afterwards. There will be a whole load of people who will just go out and think 'that was a good day in the sun, and I enjoyed Coldplay'. And there'll be a bunch of people who'll think about it in a deeper way.
It's very very difficult to generalize, but you know, the challenge is beyond 8 o'clock on Saturday. Putting on a rock show, even the biggest one in the world, even a really ambitious one, is quite a simple thing to do -- compared to curing poverty in Africa.
Kapur: Do you think the motives have stayed the same this time around? What's changed really?
Hepworth: Well the motivation behind the event is this time consciousness raising rather than fund raising, and I think that's no bad thing, because I think there was a feeling last time that 'Oh, we raised an awful lot of money, what was it? £50 million, didn't that sort out the problems of Africa?' -- because it doesn't, it's a tiny amount compared to the scale of the issues, and the issues it seems to me are more to do with poverty than they are to do with famine. Famine is a consequence of poverty.
So there was a realization that if something's going to change, it's going to be a longer term thing, it's going to involve shifts in the attitudes of governments, and things like that.
But also what you've got going this time is that everybody remembers the previous event. Live8 is for many people a kind of heritage event, for some people who went before it's like, 'Let's go again, it'll be even bigger and better', and for some people who obviously couldn't go before because they were either too young or they couldn't get in, it's 'Oh, at last I get the opportunity to take part in something historic that will resound down the years'. People are very attracted by the scale of it nowadays.
Kapur: But what's the point? Do the people who go to the concert care?
Hepworth: Well I think a lot of people who take part in any large-scale event, they don't necessarily have the clearest and purest motives, I would think an awful lot of people who go there want to go because they just want to be there. They want to be there at a big thing. And so that's undoubtedly a huge part of the appeal.
If this was just loads and loads of small, local gigs, it wouldn't have anything like the impact. The challenge for Bob Geldof is: how do you sustain this impact? You know, a load of people leave Hyde Park at 8 o'clock on Saturday night, leave it full of litter, feeling that they've somehow done their bit to reduce the sum of human suffering in the world, and of course, they haven't.
It's can he keep the dialogue going? Can he get us to accept that probably for those people to have a bit more, we've probably got to have a bit less? And that's something that governments and people like Bob Geldof have to put to us, and that's a question that we'll answer in the privacy of our own homes.
Kapur: Were the stars taking part in Live Aid really passionate about the cause, passionate about Africa?
Hepworth: Well, it's very difficult to generalize about a large number of rock stars because nobody'll ever come to these things with completely unmixed motives. But I think there are some people, the principals, I supposed Geldof obviously, and Bono and Sting, people like that, who have developed and maintained an interest in the issues of third world debt and so forth, and I think the way that they've maintained them has been very very impressive.
But if you get any bunch of rock stars, you'll get some people who are motivated purely by that, and some people who are motivated partly by that, and some people who are motivated in the old tradition that if there's a great party going on, I want to be there. People hate being left out, and this is even more the case when you're doing this for the second time.
Kapur: Was Live Aid the first time Africa was put on the map for the concert audience?
1985: "An event where everybody would feel the same thing on the same day"
Hepworth: I don't think it was quite the first time Africa had been put on the map. But, what you had in 1984-85 was this immense focus on the famine in Tigre, as reported by Michael Buerk and the BBC and so forth. And this huge swell of compassion, pity and indignation, that was focused on that event, because people had seen on Panorama and wherever these tragic pictures of children actually dying on the TV screen.
Well we're not seeing that at the moment. And, you know, because the events where those things are occurring cameras probably find it hard to get. It doesn't quite have the drama it had last time, but I think that's probably no bad thing, because this is not about one famine in one area, this should be about redressing some imbalance in the way wealth is distributed in the world.
Kapur: Did Live Aid make giving fashionable?
Hepworth: The old village fete localized way of giving became cranked up into this big TV event type telethon thing that eventually lead to things like BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief. This idea that you exchange contact with celebrity for money became an exchange that was established in the culture.
Kapur: What was it like for you when you covered it?
Hepworth: Well, I had a strange experience of Live Aid because I was there. Whereas most people's experience of it was that it was something they watched on the television. And we were in Wembley stadium and you must remember this was in the days before the mobile phone. And so there was no communication with anybody outside Wembley stadium, you just thought, 'I'm in here, it's hot, all these bands are playing, it appears to be going rather well, doesn't it?'
It was only when you went home, and I remember I got home in the middle of the night, and my wife just said, 'Well, that was astonishing'. And I thought well, why was it really astonishing? And she said: 'Oh my mother rang, and your mother rang, and this person had rung from Australia'. And so it just gathered momentum during the day, and it became one of those things where people used to ring each other up and say, 'Are you watching it?'.
And so it was the first of those kind of events to me, it was the first time that television in the modern age had got hold of that idea of an event where everybody would feel the same thing on the same day. And I think the event that most followed it was the funeral of the Princess of Wales in the UK. It was a very similar thing, people wanted to feel something and we all feel it together.
Now whether that will leads to them doing anything is up to them. That's what telly does, it deals in those feelings of unity, which are very often spurious, but people like that feeling.
Kapur: Do you think that feeling will be less this time around, just because the world's changed?
Hepworth: I think getting people's focus, getting people's attention on anything has never been harder, because the media has done everything in its power to try and dissolve people's attention, shift it round absolutely all the time.
The thing that to me will be most different, about looking at 100,000 people in Hyde Park, or however many it is, compared to 70,000 people in Wembley 20 years ago, is 20 percent of them will be on the telephone. It's a fact, they will. They'll be texting, they'll be taking pictures, they'll be going 'Look, I'm here!', all that.
Kapur: How else will Live 8 be different?
Heat of the day: The crowd at JFK is doused with water.
Hepworth: Anything done for the first time, undoubtedly makes an impression, and it's very difficult for anything that follows it up to make a bigger impression, other than a larger scale impression. More acts want to get involved, more telly wants to get involved, more newspapers want to get involved, more sponsors want to get involved, everybody's piling in there and that's going to be a very very hard thing to manage.
I don't know how they'll manage to keep the celebrity conga line at bay nowadays, it might be considerably more demanding, because the world of celebrity's grown considerably since then. It might be interesting to sit down the day after and compare and contrast the two, I think you'll see very different worlds.
Kapur: How much did the celebrities in 1985 talk about Africa, and how much of it was about their gig?
Hepworth: People didn't talk about their gig. And if people are doing these things to advance their career, they're not stupid enough to let you know it. I don't think most rock stars are particularly calculating. I don't think they sit there and think, 'I will do this therefore, on Monday I will sell another 200, 000 records'.
But they do think, and they can't help thinking because they're performers, 'Is there a big show? I should be in it!' That's what you're trying to mobilize in a good cause -- that very desire to perform.
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