Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Killing Bono

For some reason, I watched a movie called Killing Bono. It really wasn't my thing.

Two brothers, Neil and Ivan McCormick, were high school classmates of Bono while the band U2 was being formed. Bono wanted Ivan to join U2, but the older brother, Neil, told him no because they were forming their own band.

When U2 hits it big, Neil is wracked with guilt for stopping his brother from joining. He becomes driven to succeed, but makes one terrible decision after another, refusing to compromise on any point all the while withering in U2's shadow.

The movie got kind of dreary, watching someone do one idiotic thing after another. He and his brother would actually have been fairly successful if he hadn't turned down one opportunity after another. Rod Stewart wanted to record their song, but he was old and Neil didn't want to compromise. They had a chance to open for U2, but Neil wanted to play for his own fans, not U2's.

Like I said, the movie really wasn't my thing. I don't listen to much music. If I did, it wouldn't be U2 or their competitors. I don't know what Bono's thing is. He's basically a right-winger but I have the impression that he's too dumb to realize it.

In an article on, Dave Marsh related that Bono publicly challenged him to a debate on Marsh's view “that celebrity politics has been a pretty much complete failure”.  Marsh agreed to debate, but Bono chickened out, backed out of the challenge he made, and gave no explanation.

Read the whole article here:

From the article:
I don’t know why Bono spit the bit on debating these issues in a public forum with a well-informed antagonist. Maybe he decided that he’d fucked up and was about to lower himself by going head to head with a journalist. Maybe he doesn’t want to deal on the spot with descriptions of his repeated appearances at the conferences of the leading capitalist nations where he’s yet to ask his first hard question about anything but Africa; about his settling for promises from world leaders that patently weren’t going to be kept, and never doing more than mewing when they weren’t; about why it is that Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, by no means an anti-capitalist, observes that she met him “at a party to raise money for Africans, and there were no Africans in the room, except for me,” or why so many other Africans have complained that he claims to speak for them but has never so much as asked their permission. In regard to the last, I did receive more courtesy than Andrew Mwenda, the Ugandan journalist Bono cursed for raising such questions at an economics conference. (But then, I’m white and Celtic-American.)


...The band’s decision to have its song publishing company flee Ireland for a tax haven in the Netherlands has been subject to protests in the streets of Dublin and has no obvious justification, despite Bono’s fatuous counterclaim that it is his critics who are the hypocrites because free-market values were what created the “Celtic Tiger” of Dublin’s capitalist boom economy. The Tiger’s death throes look to be particularly messy, in part because of capital flight of just U2’s kind. The band’s attempt to alter the Dublin skyline with its Clarence Hotel expansion is another example of its ruinous distance from everyday Irish reality.
“During the band’s performance of ‘In The Name of Love,’” wrote Hegarty, “he described Martin Luther King’s dream as ‘Not just an American dream–also an Irish dream, a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream . . .’ And then, following a long pause reminiscent of a man who’d just realized he’d left the gas on, he added, ‘. . . and also a Palestinian dream.’ This was his big shout out to the Palestinians… You can’t help but marvel at this latest expression of Bono’s Sesame Street view of the world. Hey Middle East, we just have to have a dream to get along.

Bono is no man of peace–he has yet to speak out against any war. Bono is part owner of Pandemic/Bioware, producers of Mercenaries 2, a video game which simulates an invasion of Venezuela. Last year Bono met with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to discuss plans to set up a new U.S. military command for Africa. Forbes, the magazine Bono co-owns, constantly beats the drums for war (Bono says he was attracted to the magazine because it has a “consistent philosophy”).

...Bono sings the praises of some of the most warlike public figures. It starts with Dubya and Blair—Bono praised the UK prime minister for “doing the things he believed in.” He clearly meant to include massive British involvement in the war in Iraq. Bono also has nothing but praise for arch-reactionaries such as Jesse Helms and Billy Graham. In the video for Pat Boone’s video, “Thank You Billy Graham,” Bono intones “I give thanks for the sanity of Billy Graham, a singer of the human spirit.” Interesting. In 1966, Graham followed LBJ to the podium at the National Prayer Breakfast to give a ringing endorsement of the war in Vietnam. “There are those,” Graham said, “who have tried to reduce Christ to a genial and innocuous appeaser; but Jesus said ‘You are wrong—I have come as a firesetter and sword-wielder. I am come to send fire down on earth!” Sing that human spirit, Billy—you’ve got Bono on harmonies. Indeed, surrounded by America’s most hawkish politicians, Bono gave a fawning keynote speech at the 2008 National Prayer Breakfast. In a recent interview with the British music magazine Q, U2 drummer Larry Mullen said he “cringes” when he sees Bono hanging out with George Bush and Tony Blair, adding that those two world leaders should be tried as “war criminals.”


Despite the inspiration that many people take from the anthems Bono has written, there is not one shred of evidence that he disagrees on any issue—war, tax shelters, immigration—with the power brokers he wants us to believe are the last best hope of mankind.

No, Bono and U2 and rock and roll in general don't interest me.

But I understand the two fellows in this movie being ticked off at their more successful former classmates and I understand being rivals with someone who's so much more successful that they have no idea any rivalry exists.

I know a number of jazz musicians. Jazz doesn't sell terribly well. Jazz musicians (not counting Kenny G) are infinitely better musicians than rock stars, but they reach a far smaller audience. So watching this movie, Neil and Ivan's modest success as rock stars looked pretty good to me. They were doing quite well.

They shouldn't have thought of themselves as failed rock stars. They should have thought of themselves as incompetent yet wildly successful jazz musicians.

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