29 January 2007

Blowhard Bono

I bought my first and only U2 record somewhere around 1980 because I liked the song "Follow." I quickly discovered that I didn't like any of the other songs and that U2 were a lot cheesier and more mainstream than I'd been led to believe. I've never had the slightest inclination to buy another U2 record since then, and make a general rule of avoiding, whenever possible, anything to do with the band.

That's not always easy, since U2's music has been licenced for so many commercial purposes that you're always running into it as part of the soundtrack to the football highlights or in random TV shows and movies, and if I'm going to be honest, I'll have to admit that it's far from the worst music that's been made these past 25 years. But that's like admitting that McDonald's hamburgers are occasionally edible or even enjoyable under the right circumstances, like if you're starving to death and/or so drunk you have no idea what you're stuffing your face with.

Okay, okay, I don't want to needlessly stir up resentment; U2 are better than McDonald's. Maybe even better than KFC or Taco Bell. In fact, I'd put them on about a par with Subway, though I'll probably down several dozen Subway sandwiches before I voluntarily listen to, let alone buy anything by Bono and Co.

And there I've put my finger on the nub of the problem: Mr Blowhard Bono himself, the Ronald McDonald-cum-Colonel Sanders of the U2 franchise operation. Without Mr Bono, U2 would probably produce some reasonably listenable background music; with his bombastic bleatings added to the mix, it's simply unbearable. In fact, just thinking of his fat, bloated face, oozing with smugness and smarminess as he preaches about his pinheaded prescriptions for saving the world makes me almost mad enough to invest $150 (or whatever they're charging these days) to get up front at the next U2 concert and plant a lemon meringue pie square in his smug, self-satisfied puss.

Somehow this hypocritical clown has managed to get himself semi-canonised as a patron of the world's poor, and, worse, to get himself taken seriously as a source of advice by presidents and prime ministers who frankly should know better. The man is a generic rockstar who has devoted his entire life to getting fantastically rich and living the life of a pampered, self-indulgent plutocrat, has no education or experience that I'm aware of in the field of geopolitics or international relations, and yet we're supposed to believe that he has something useful to offer on the complex challenges facing Africa and the Third World?

Bono's programme thus far has amounted to little more than regular demands for Western governments to take a bigger share of their tax receipts and hand them over, without checks or controls, to the already obscenely rich and corrupt dictators who are largely responsible for driving Africa into penury and keeping it there. One can only assume that from the rarefied financial heights on which he dwells, Bono sees the multimillionaires and billionaires ruling over various African fiefdoms as kindred spirits, who, like himself are best equipped to spend other people's money.

That's why I found this article particularly enjoyable and enlightening. Read how Bono, who never stops touting new ways to spend your and my tax dollars propping up corrupt African regimes under the rubric of "debt relief" (please note: I'm not at all opposed to debt relief under the right circumstances, just to the ignorant and unregulated approach Bono takes toward it), has gone to considerable lengths to avoid having his own money squandered on such doofy schemes.

Same old story: ordinary working people, who generally get taxes deducted straight out of their paychecks, have little choice but to pay taxes and even less control over how that tax money is spent. Multinational corporations, on the other hand, like Bono, Inc., can move their money across borders and employ armies of accountants and lawyers to make sure they pay little or no tax, while meanwhile still feeling free to decide and dictate what should be done with everybody else's money.


David said...

What did you think of the Skids cover U2 did with Green Day?

I have to admit I enjoyed that, though I think their version of Beat on the Brat off of that Ramones tribute album completely sucked.

Amy said...

The song's actually called "I Will Follow" and their ticket prices (at least on the last tour) for floor tickets were $50. I'm a U2 fan...

But, I can't argue with most of what you're saying. Bono's pious as hell and generally seems to talk out of his ass most of the time. I could actually go on and on about the flaws I've found in his many "save Africa" speeches over the years, but you did a pretty good job of that.

It seems like every rock star needs their cause. Even Green Day is doing it now that they've hooked up with NRDC, which I find highly amusing. It makes me wonder how their planning on travelling for their next tour without looking like a bunch of hypocrits. But, whatever...I like Green Day too.

Anna Louise said...

Hypocrisy is soemthing that goes hand in hand with many do gooder celebrities, a recent example is Prince Charles, accepting an award for his envirionmentally friendly work but he flies 13 staff for two days across the atlantic on tax payers money. how green.

kristina said...

Seeing Green Day playing with U2 was pretty surreal. Maybe Bono isn't the most educated expert and he may get on some people's nerves but isn't it better to be doing something?

Raymond said...