Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Myopic Critique of the New "We Are the World"

One of the most short-sighted critiques  I've seen in a long time is the one concerning whether the new "We Are the World" should have been made.   Jay-Z is being widely quoted as saying that the original 1985 version is so good, so peerless, that he doesn't "ever wanna see it touched".

I can understand the feeling.  I still cringe a little every time I hear someone other than the Beatles do a Beatles song, anyone other than the Supremes try "You Can't Hurry Love."   This applies to movies, too.  The remakes of "The Getaway" and "The Manchurian Candidate" don't hold a candle to the originals.

And there's no doubt that the original "We Are the World" is much better than the current remake - better in incandescent artists, for sure.   Who can compare with Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, the list goes on and on.

But that's not the point, is it.   The point of both "We Are the Worlds" was to focus attention on and raise money for highly worthy causes.    If the new "We Are the World" is only good, or even great, in comparison to the 1985 version which was greater, actually, the greatest, why should whatever good the new version can do be eliminated?

There is pain, hurt, evil in the world aplenty.   The forces of light have all they can do to keep the flood of darkness at the gates.   Why turn away a valuable ally, even it's lesser than the original?

It's often said the good is the enemy of the great - meaning that selection of the good can preempt or shortcircuit the great.    But the maxim does not apply in this case.    The new "We Are the World" in no way diminishes the original - if anything, it calls attention to how superb the original still is.   And the new version has the benefit of literally adding to the chorus.    Those who bravely gave perfection another try deserve our thanks not our critique and certainly no one's derision.

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