You’d imagine that, in a post-Kony 2012 world, it’d be pretty hard to set new standards in the “Patronizing Africans” game. Well, imagine anew, my friends. American “violinist, musician, dancer, performance artist, and composer” Lindsey Stirling has covered Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and she’s shot a video for it in Kenya, all arranged and paid for by "social shopping" site VenTribe.com.
But forget about the awesome Kenyan Kikoys for a second if you can, because this video has implications that are even wider reaching. Namely, that Lindsey's now competing with Jason Russell for the adoration of American teenagers who think Twitter saved Arabia and know for certain that Facebook will make poverty history. Because, you see, Africa is “hopeless” and the photogenic people who live there must be saved so that they can buy each other clothes online.
Here’s a little guide to Africa's new hero.
This forlorn child, all he has is a single tire with which to play his game while in America children his age sit around mowing down grannies on X-Box. But look at his ingenuity! With this simple object he can create a game to delight both himself and the cameras for literally seconds.
Oh, but look! He has friends. Look at their rags. This really is a hopeless place. Yet still they manage to smile—the simple smile of optimism. And there’s our old friend the tire in the background. You’re not finished being a toy just yet, Mr. Tire!
Musicians spring, like animals on safari, from the plain. “The background vocals and drumming was recorded by artists in Kenya,” we are told. Don’t worry, actual Africans participated in this, even if they were relegated to backing vox and the rhythm section, because... well, y'know. Those lucky Kenyans. If this goes Kony-viral, they'll probably be rich enough to ditch their wooden shacks and jam forever in one of the luxury tents or five-star hotel rooms that Lindsey stayed in for the duration of her visit (honestly, check out the "thank you" section in the video credits):
Hmm, I'm enjoying this video, but so far it's all a bit... same-y. You know what it needs? Some star quality. And look, here it is, in the form of “Hip Hop Violinist” and America's Got Talent quarter-finalist, Lindsey Stirling. She’s performing in New York soon, so you better book your tickets now to avoid disappointment.
"No, no children, this isn’t Bono’s wife. She's coming in next period to teach food tech. Lindsey's here to teach us how to do our sums. What do you get if you add 30 African children to a white chick with a violin in some checkered Vans? That's right, filthy fucking rich!"
This is Kenyan singer Alisha Popat telling us that this sun-drenched plain is a “hopeless place.” She is young and full of positive life energy (i.e., she’s kind of hot).
YouTube will never get tired of smiling African children, particularly when a girl who looks like the flute chick from American Pie moonlighting for an NGO is with them joking around and holding on to their shoulders. Remember to “'Like' to share love around the world.” And maybe also check out some great deals online at VenTribe.com? I dunno, it's up to you.
“This was their first time hearing a violin.” These brave, primitive people… WAS IT? REALLY? A VIOLIN? Whatever you do, don't show them this dubstep violin video you made, the snow will blow their minds.
And then the lyrics change… “We found love in a holy place… we found love in a whole new place.” Oh wait, so God's involved in this? How surprising. Lord, you have wrought me anew.
"Children, you must realize that this magical implement will liberate you. It will spread the message of hope. Soon you will all be on Facebook! Soon I will be able to jerk off while high in public and apologies will be made for me!"
In the Rihanna video, the "hopeless place" is Northern Ireland and it’s a place where models and their beautiful friends can make out, wear DMs, pretend to skateboard, and take drugs in the bath together. Here, all Lindsey does is pretend to be blown away by dancing with a child. I mean, come on, don’t you have a niece? Haven’t you been to a wedding? FFS, it’s dancing with a child, not seeing the Northern Lights for the first time.
It's Africa, pal. There are elephants everywhere.
And smiley drummer guys… Thank God we’re here to save them both from their desperate plight. Go us!
Don’t worry, that’s Mufasa, not Scar! Ah, look he’s sleepy because we tranquilized him.
The humble, gracious sharing of the gift of the violin… And lo, did I bring Mozart to the once fierce savage. Oh God, why do Maasai warriors always have to be dragged into these things? I guess at least we'll all be able to sleep easier in our beds tonight knowing that, somewhere out there on the Kenyan savannahs, there is a man tunelessly hacking away at a Stradivarius.
The rest of the video recycles the now familiar tropes: Lindsey dances with some locals, high-fives some kids, hugs some kids, goes back to the school and plays the violin again, dances some more, points excitedly at a lion, and generally lights up everyone’s life as the music fades out.
When it's all over and Africa has been saved, Lindsey appears on screen to deliver a moving speech about how, “personally, to me” this is the most special video she’s ever put out. Then she thanks VenTribe. Profusely. And you know what? So should we. So should Africa.
Follow Oscar on Twitter: @oscarrickettnow