I have long been questioning the money side of U2 and, in particular, Bono. Where our perception is one of a giving man, a Christian man, a saviour for a continent, has something changed?
What twigged this today for me was reading a review of the book The Frontman – Bono (In The Name Of Power) by Harry Browne. I’d ask that anyone who may have read this book to please add any thoughts on it in the comments – I’d love to hear some fan thoughts after reading it). The reviewer here confirms the book indeed covers many ideas I’ve had and written about.
Recent events seem to follow the pattern we’ve been seeing from Bono over the last decade or so. First he was getting into bed with George W Bush and Jesse Helms. Then Bush-follower Tony Blair. Economist Jeffrey Sachs, who appears to have had a great influence on him, as well. More recently he’s lent his name and face doing an interview with Focus On The Family – giving credence to a group that shuns gays and embraces Creationism over Evolution. Read more here.
I was intrigued in the early going, trying to embrace Conservatives into a more giving stance. Truly trying to ‘love thine enemy’ as it were. But the more time passes and the more I see of how his time is spent and his ideas followed I find he perhaps is more likely embraced the neocon ideals he once claimed to forsake. Note that he recently decided that the small changes promoting big ideas was never going to do it and that capitalism is the way to go. Read more here.
And so now we find the latest in his efforts, which is the release of a new U2 song called Invisible, involve Bank of America. This is being done as a free download with BofA donating for each download. This is being done in support of the Red campaign, which Bono founded.
On the surface, it’s a great idea. Make those rich bankers pay!! Yeah!! But look a little deeper. What does this accomplish?
Well, the donation amount would likely have been set already so that side of it means nothing. It gives people who may think U2 is done a reason to check out their new direction where they might not have before. It does the same for people who are activists who may have soured on some of Bono’s recent pronouncements.
What it also does is lend credence (note an ongoing theme here?) to a major bank. Makes them look like philanthropic superstars instead of the greedy money-hoarders that we all know they are.
Where the One campaign was started to involve humanity in dealing with the abject poverty and disease being forced upon the populace in Africa through power, greed, colonialism. A ground up effort to get around the dictators and corruption in the governments and businesses throughout Africa in order to affect change. Suddenly Bono is now saying that capitalism is the answer. Is it me or do I sense a loss of idealism? For a man who can go out and spend his free time on the French Riviera, Washington, L.A. or wherever he wants, you have to wonder.
Even when you look at Edun, his wife Ali Hewson’s fashion line, you see the difference. What started out as a project “to show that you can make a for-profit business where everybody in the chain is treated well” that was supposed to deliver help to Africa that was not aid.
And as they have lost money, they have moved sourcing from solely Africa to China and beyond and sold 49% of the business to Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton. Guess who suggested that? Why Jeffrey Sachs! Go figure. So as of 2010, the high fashion was solely manufactured in China while the very simple garments are still made in Africa. And while they still work to improve things, all this shows is the reality of the capitalist business world we live in versus the idealism of significant improvements for the poor.
All of this would seem to tell me that idealistic and poorer Bono of the 1980’s has become something of a poster boy for rich Conservatism, embracing capitalism as he is most certainly a part of that 1%. Does Bono still really want to help Africa, gays, the poor and diseased across the globe?
On some level I expect he does. I just have this feeling that he’s enjoying the circles he’s running in far too much and that he’s drank from the vat of money Kool-aid to the point where his ideals have disappeared. He may think he’s being practical. To me he’s become something of a fraud.
All this is not to take away from all that he and so many others have accomplished. I am simply seeing changes in ideas and philosophies that disturb me.