He's come here to play Jesus...
"I Hate U2" (Spoken Word) - Henry Rollins
Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I've maintained that Paul "Bono" Hewson is an arrogant huckster, a phony, a walking sack of histrionic bullshit. I am not alone in this assessment, either: Henry Rollins, Negativland, and even the occassional pundit have taken their swipes at the flag-waving frontman. The reasons for bashing Bono are as varied as the bashers themselves. For some, the music alone is enough of an affront. For others, it's those bloody sunglasses. (A friend once ranted for fifteen minutes about how Bono addressed the United Nations in a leather jacket and shades, while every other human being - war criminals included - has the decency to put on a suit.)
Personally, I've always abhorred show-boating, but more importantly, I distrust the sincerity of Bono's concern with the Third World. To begin with that classic criticism of political celebrities, what are his qualifications? A rock star since the underripe age of nineteen, Bono has never had to deal directly with the delicate balance of economics. (Nor should he be trusted to manage finances, as demonstrated by U2's 1998 PopMart tour, the Titanic of stadium tours.) Now, if Mick Jagger wanted to talk Third World Debt Relief, I'd listen up, because the man's got a degree from the London School of Economics. But Bono?
It should come as no surprise, then, that Bono is so desperately concerned with those less fortunate than himself. To be as filthy rich as he has as long as he has, and to be as dyed-in-the-wool Catholic as he has always been... now that'll produce a burden of self-loathing and guilt that dwarfs the weight on Atlas' shoulders. It makes sense that Mr. Hewson literally crawls on his hands and knees for his fans' affection, or that he would want to pull up the people to mitigate his guilt.
For the record, Chris Martin comes from a similar background.
So what's wrong with a visible public figure drawing attention to a noble cause? Well, what good does it do to engage in hollow sloganeering and opportunist photo-ops without, oh, I don't know, putting your money where your mouth is? To this day, Bono has yet to donate to debt relief or other Third World aid. But at the root of it all is my severe distrust of the Catholic church.
And here's where we draw open the curtain on Bono's soul.
What do a fascistic, homophobic, poor-bashing U.S. senator and Bono have in common? Their faith. And apparently, that's all it took for Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum to convince U2 to perform at a $1000/seat fundraiser for his reelection campaign.
I understand that, as an activist, it's occassionally necessary to shake a dirty hand; that's why I never begrudged Bono's personal meetings with conservative lawmakers. But to play a private event for a man who would criminalize a lifestyle, marginalize whole other portions of the population, and actively fuck over the very people Bono claims to care so deeply about is indefensible and unconscionable. I hate to say "I told you so", but...
Okay, I don't hate to say "I told you so." Feast on the comeuppance, you fools. I told you so. Fuck Bono.
UPDATE:: Okay, so Santorum stretched the truth; Bono does NOT actively endorse the senator. It turns out that Santorum's $1000/seat fundraiser is limited to a skybox at an upcoming U2 concert. That being said, all my other criticism of Bono still holds true. Ibid: fuck that guy.