There was a seismic and culture-jamming shift in the entertainment world on March 28, and unless you spent 12 hours glued to Twitch, it’s possible you didn’t even notice.
For those avoiding the news, there’s a bit of a global crisis right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the world in a way that’s made every panic of the past half-century seem like a blip.
Strangely, mass trauma has a way of making one feel like there’s maybe hope for humanity. When things get truly ugly and grim, people often tend to forget about their differences and pull together.
And pull together they did on March 28, in a 12-hour marathon dubbed Stream Aid 2020. Organized and spearheaded by Toronto-based Enthusiast Gaming, the event had a diverse army of entertainment-industry stars diving head-first into eSports gaming on the Twitch platform, with performances by music megastars like John Legend adding to the digital festivities.
Many stars stepped up—all too fittingly—to play Call of Duty for charity on Twitch. By the time the epic streaming session was over, US$2.7 million had been raised for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Defense Fund.
The idea of stars banding together for an important global cause is not new. Your great-grandparents will remember Queen, the Who, and Elton John headlining Live Aid to raise money and awareness for drought-ravaged Ethiopia back in 1985. Or Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan pitching in for Farm Aid to help rural Americans that same year.
The very title Stream Aid is an intentional nod to those endeavours.
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