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Twattery in Pop: Bono

March 29th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

It appears that there still are some U2 fans out there ““ including the reviews staff of the increasingly irrelevant Rolling Stone which saw fit to praise an album which even die-hard U2istas have virtually disowned. Hell, I bet even Johnny Drama hates it. Mr Agreeable certainly did. But my objection to U2 resides not with the music, shocking though the new single is. Even in the more recent U2 catalogue, there are some songs which I like, such as City Of Blinding Lights or Vertigo. No, my particular problem with U2, apart from their tax-dodging, is that Bono is  intolerable.

I once was a devoted U2 fan. In the summer of 1985, I saw them live three times on three successive weekends in three countries. My bedroom was plastered with huge promotional posters for U2 records and gigs. I had all their singles in their original sleeves, in various editions. I bought the Under A Blood Red Sky Bono jacket with the sleeves cut off (I was too embarrassed to wear it in public though). But even then I knew that Bono was a bit of a prat, though the full extent of his twattery would reveal itself only later. We did get a clue of it when U2 cheerfully broke municipal law by playing an inner city rooftop concert “” the first time ever an act had done that, probably! “” for the Where The Streets Have No Name video, with no regard to the traffic chaos they were causing (anyone who knows the frustration of being stuick in a traffic jam you can’t get out of will empathise with the poor motorists affected by U2’s arrogance). Confronted by law enforcement officials, Bono played the martyr. The chaotic defiance we witnessed in the video was all smart editing, of course. Bono and his chums obediently packed up the moment the LAPD told them to.

Bono in Twatland, 1987

Bono in Twatland, 1987

Once Bono had come to rule the world”s stadia (on the back of the rather overrated Joshua Tree album), and his group traded earnesty for what they mistook for “irony”, he became even more insufferable. And we slowly got to know the real character of the salad tosser so admired by TIME magazine and their ilk, and so despised by many right-thinking people. Most disagreeable was Bono”s duet with Frank Sinatra on the latter”s final cash-in outing. In I”ve Got You Under My Skin, the simpering fuckwit changes the lyrics in an embarrassing show of star-struck insinuation, crooning: “Don”t you know, Blue Eyes, you never can win.” You see, Bono is on intimate terms with the legendary Sinatra (himself a price goon), so much so that he feels entitled to address him intimately by “¦ his media nickname. You just know, beyond a doubt know, that at some point the fawning fuck did that I”m-not-worthy bowing routine to Sinatra (who doubtless thought: “You got that right, Jack”). How do we know? Because Bono does that crap to any overhyped media sensation that comes his way.

Blair and Geldof come to blows over Africa.

Blair and Geldof come to blows over Africa.

At the best of times, all that “” the coloured shades, the embarrassing posturing and the smug, fake self-deprecation “” would be very annoying but borderline tolerable. It”s Bono’s pompous delusion that he, and the other greasy Irishman, are doing any good in their caped crusades in the diplomatic milieu. Their fancy is not only inappropriate but also deleterious. The objection resides not in the notion that Bono and the ghoulish Bob Geldof administer diplomatic fellatio to the likes of George W Bush, who grant them an audience only because they think they”re down with the kids when being seen with superannuated rock stars. It is the notion that Bono and Geldof believe they are being taken seriously as they are doing so, cheered on by a toadying press. Of course they are not being taken seriously. Would you buy a used peace from Bono the Clown? In his orange shades? Would you agree in principle on any proposal peddled by somebody looking (and sounding, when he manages to extricate Dubya”s testicles from his big gob) like Bob Geldof? Let me put it closer to home: would you want your child to be taught by people like Bono or Geldof? Would you let your conscience be formed by a pair of obsolete classclowns? If not, why should The Man?

The caption competition is now open.

The caption competition is now open.

But if they were teachers, at least they”d act with a mandate. When they represent Africa, they act without a mandate. I cannot think of any African leader who appreciates the lobbying these bozos are presently doing on the continent”s behalf. Except maybe by Mandela, in exchange for a generous donation to his mammoth charity which believes that people like Annie Lennox are still relevant. But, just to be clear, Bono and Geldof do not represent Africa. In no way, in no form. If anything, their self-congratulatory hobby of hobnobbing with pols harms Africa. Bono and Geldof are part of the problem. The Man pats these obeisant puppies on their heads, making soothing sounds so that they stop their ineffectual yapping and continue to do what they have always done: exploit Africa while making mealy-mouthed voices.

Does the tax-dodging Bono not realise how racist it is for him to think that an artistically bankrupt pop star going by his childhood nickname in blue or orange shades can do a better job of engaging and negotiating for Africa than Africans themselves? Bono and Geldof are trivialising and misrepresenting Africa. Not that the patron saint of smug is willing to face that reality.

I fear that I have failed here to summarise the full extent of Bono”s twattery. The music author Dave Marsh does so with much greater refinement and asperity than I have in his hugely entertaining article on Rock & Rap Confidential (get the follow-up by subscribing to the newsletter on rockrap@aol.com), which I discovered through the good offices of The Hits Just Keep Coming blog.

U2 were lacking edge

U2 were lacking edge

Still, there”s the music. So here is some U2. Two of them live recordings, one my favourite post-Joshua Tree U2 song (and probably Johnny Drama’s); the other a quite entertaining performance of Dancing Queen in Stockholm in 1992, accompanied by Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus (and doesn’t Bono say “We’re not worthy”, the predictable cliché merchant).

Then there is an example of U2 at their most horrible, doing an entirely misconceived version of Cole Porter’s Night And Day “” on an album that was intended to be in tribute of Porter. Cole, as Bono would doubtless call Mr Porter, would have been aghast. After Sinatra had changed the word “darling” to “baby” on Night And Day, Porter once told him not to record his songs if he felt the need to mess with the lyrics!

U2 – City Of Blinding Lights (live in Brooklyn).mp3
U2 – Dancing Queen (live).mp3
U2 – Night And Day.mp3

Richard Cheese – Sunday Bloody Sunday.mp3

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  1. March 29th, 2009 at 13:53 | #1

    I couldn’t agree more. Every time Bono pops up on the TV I feel like lunging at the screen. The douchiest of all douchebags.

  2. Prof. Festus X. “White Shoes” Throckmorton
    March 29th, 2009 at 14:07 | #2

    So the crux of the matter appears to be that Bono and Geldof don’t hate Pres. Bush. Whew. For a second there, I thought you were just being reactionary.

  3. ianbalentine
    March 29th, 2009 at 16:46 | #3

    LOVED IT LOVED IT LOVED IT! If I had Bono’s personal email I’d send him a link…

  4. Garth
    March 29th, 2009 at 16:57 | #4

    a brilliant article. I’m led to believe that was in fact Blair’s song of choice at the start of the Iraq war, whilst tracking down the WMDs – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

  5. Shaun
    March 29th, 2009 at 17:21 | #5

    Hilarious, man. Any time my friend brings up Bono, he always has to say it like this:

    “Bono—I mean, Jesus….”

    How’s this for the caption contest:

    “You’re doin’ a heck of a job, Bono.”

    Or

    “You’re doin’ a heck of a job, Paulie.”

  6. March 29th, 2009 at 22:37 | #6

    Dude, you nailed it. I was going to write about the tax-dodging and another point I’ll make in a minute, but I assure you I would have been sued for the way I said it, even if my facts were 100% accurate (if he ever learned of it and cared).

    It’s extremely disgusting to me that, after he stopped paying taxes in Ireland on his music catalogue by using a Dutch loophole aimed to foster DUTCH art, he felt that he had a right to beat down the planners of Dublin’s city centre and turn some truly historic buildings into a modern hotel for his friends, for HIS profit. I can see it now: “Bono has found a way for the EU to declare his hotel in Dublin a Dutch work of art, and now he does not have to pay taxes on it.” I will not ever forgive this hypocrisy. And he is now on the very short list of people whose music I will download illegally. No taxes? No royalties.

    What do you think of Oprah Winfrey dropping some pocket change to create one girls’ school in Africa, complete with uniforms so those girls can impress their less-fortunate neighbours? Odd as it may sound, the school systems of Mississippi in the USA could use a bit of her help, too.

    Thanks for this post!

  7. Garth
    March 30th, 2009 at 01:43 | #7

    Plus Bono insulted Herbert Grönemeyer by not bothering to learn the words to “Mensch” >:(

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IERMGZuLM4

  8. March 30th, 2009 at 17:27 | #8

    I keep meaning to write a Top Ten Rockstars I’d Most Like To Punch In The Face post… and Bono would, obviously, be number one with a bullet.

  9. March 31st, 2009 at 01:42 | #9

    Blar. I have discovered that it is physically impossible for me to hear or read the name Bono without letting out a sigh and rolling my eyes. I tried. It’s impossible.

    Well put, Dude.

  10. hotteacher1976
    March 31st, 2009 at 07:53 | #10

    Oprah, can help as many African schools as she wants. Why are people hung up about it? They aren’t doing anything to help their fellow person and they’re wrecked with guilt by it. As for Mississippi, America claims to be the greatest superpower in the World, so why not help its own state, instead of wishing that one person take care of its ill-will. Mississippi is mismanaged and always has been.

    So, he’s smug, so what? You’re being smug as well, lol. How dare he choose to live his life the way he pleases? How dare he, I say, lol. It’s funny that the negative opinions of Bono increased as he ventured to help the plight of some African countries. I applaud him. For decades, these African countries have pleaded for necessary help and attention; yet, no one cared. Bono helps out and he’s called a racist for doing so? Give me a break.

    I still love you, though, as a blogger. But, you can’t call someone smug without examining your own smug behavior, lol.

  11. March 31st, 2009 at 11:54 | #11

    Apart from vainglory, I have no particular beef with Oprah’s school in Johannesburg. She is offering education opportunities in an environment where these are limited, so I have no beef with her.

    Bono is a different thing though. If his gig was just conscience raising for Africa’s problems, I’d have no problem with it. But it isn’t just his smugness. He is acting on Africa’s behalf, as a self-appointed ambassador, without a mandate from African leadership. The manner in which he does so trivialises a very important agenda, and gives the superpowers an outlet to patronise African aspirations. To be brutally frank, he facilitates their callous negligence. For this he merits criticism, and more so since it is apparent that his endeavours are firmly rooted in vainglory.

    It is racist of Bono to presume to speak on behalf of Africa, as if Africans are incapable of doing so themselves. Of course it is a different brand of racism from your garden variety white supremacists with burning crosses, but it communicates the notion of white superiority. The trouble is that he probably thinks in all sincerity that he is doing good. But he simply isn’t.

    He also is quiet when successful campaigns are credited to him. Take the Jubilee 2000 campaign, which orginated with NGOs and churches — particularly the Catholic Church. Once Bono jumped on the bandwagon, even the likes of Time magazine credited Bono with leading the campaign when he was just a passenger. He bathed in the glory without acknowledging that he was just a hitch-hiker. When he was credited with telling Pope John Paul II to get on board of Jubilee 2000, he did not correct that falsehood. JP2 was in fact one of the inspirations behind Jubilee 2000 — without taking over the campaign.

    I don’t mind you calling me smug; and I still love you too.

  12. Ralph
    March 31st, 2009 at 20:41 | #12

    Great post, Bono is a pompous, bombastic fool. And that’s at best; like you and your readers point out he’s also quite dangerous, although not at all in the way he’d clearly like to be.

  13. April 15th, 2009 at 17:32 | #13

    well said, well said… i saw U2 once during their big lemon tour for about 10 minutes- my friend had won free tickets and we’d hoped to sell them for beer money. no takers. went in. yawn. left.
    a quasi-liberal lou dobbs, and according to another friend who went to the same school in ireland, he was just as tiresome as a teen.

    reminds me of the quote on the cover of that old mothers of invention album “if your children ever find out how lame you are, they will kill you in your sleep”.

    great blog- the songs and sources are amazing, and a true pleasure.
    keep kickin’,
    dugg

  14. W
    April 22nd, 2009 at 04:34 | #14

    You hit the nail on the head! Thanks for a beautiful rant. W.

  15. sw2boro
    June 15th, 2009 at 14:44 | #15

    UK based (I think) mag has a cover story of its latest edition – Bono- Superstar Saviour or Sanctimmonious Git that you may wish to investigate.

    http://www.wordmagazine.co.uk/

    The link doesn’t go to the article, just the mag’s homepage, but you can see the cover there – the article may even ne hiding there too!

  16. sw2boro
    July 19th, 2009 at 14:40 | #16

    People may like the UK bomic Viz’s cartoon in its latest issue – “Bono (out of U2) – the Little Twat with the Big Heart”.
    http://www.viz.co.uk/newstrip.html

    I believe it should be available for about four weeks from the date of this post – after that you’ll have to buy it.

  17. July 19th, 2009 at 20:14 | #17

    Oh man, I almost had a heart attack from laughing too hard. Just fantastic!

  18. Jenny
    August 3rd, 2009 at 00:21 | #18

    Why is Bono a twat, but Oprah gets off the hook? Here’s a really good post about the pros and cons of Oprah’s school: http://diaryofananxiousblackwoman.blogspot.com/2007/03/oprah-winfrey-leadership-academy-black.html

  1. June 20th, 2012 at 15:22 | #1