Author Topic: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.  (Read 5623 times)

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Offline The Mimsy

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A strange feeling appeared at my emotional doorstep last night.

A colleague of mine is writing a piece about Bono and the history and scope of his activism. I was present last night as he watched every interview and speech Bono has given over the last 20 years regarding activism and social awareness.

Oh, my...

While I have watched all of these at one time over the last 25 plus years of being a fan - watching them all in chronological order, one right after the other, non-stop - I was left with the unexpected flavor of a bad taste in my mouth. One I have never experienced prior in over 2 decades of fandom.

The first thing that struck me was the progression of his ego. The earlier speeches/interviews left me giggling at times due to his amazing sense of humor and sense of approach-ability. His words during those periods were inspiring - ones that if I were a young person hearing him speak back in those times, would have inspired me to make a change in the global community. They were words delivered with heart and passion, words that spoke to everyone, words that made you want to hit the ground running and devour the injustices of the world.

Then, as the years, progressed, the speeches became increasingly more like the ones I was forced to suffer through watching my father, who was the head of a large union here in the US, give to his members... repetitive, self centered, riddled with the same tired jokes he had been recycling for 20 years. Bono manages to go from open, inspiring, approachable, and with an overall sense of a man with a huge heart who lived and breathed his passion to make the injustices of the world once again balanced to what I would would view as a ego maniacal, class separated, corporate mouthpiece (himself being the corporation) who has been doing it so long that it now appears somewhat scripted and tedious. It was not what I ever wanted to feel about the man I admire far beyond his musical abilities. I am now swimming in regret over having viewed all of that in sequence last night. I even sent a "f-you" message to my colleague for exposing me to that last night.

How do I recover from this? And what has happened to him? I would love to be able to chalk it up to age, the changing social climate, and what the effects of being the lead singer for the biggest band in the world have on someone after so many years. But I fear it's rather simple- he now has bought into all of his hype and in turn, has become one of "them." "Them" being the LAST thing I ever wanted to see him morph into. I suppose it's unavoidable when you are someone with such influence, such a fat wallet, and so worshiped by millions, as Bono is. But dammit if it doesn't break my heart.

Don't get me wrong- my love and respect for him and the band, in a musical sense, has not wavered. Nor will it ever. The ability that group of men has to touch parts of my soul that have not been touched by any other means other than the brilliance they produce musically is something I carry in the darkest and most private parts of my being every moment of my life. To say that their music has influenced the shape of the person I have become since seeing them for the very first time when I was 14 years old (I am now 45 years old) would be a huge injustice to the unprecedented effect they have had on me.

But, as much as I don't want to say this, I have a sneaking suspicion that my hero is probably a grade A d*****bag.

I'm going to go cry in a corner now. ;)



Offline Velvet Dress

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2014, 05:35:30 PM »
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Then, as the years, progressed, the speeches became increasingly more like the ones I was forced to suffer through watching my father, who was the head of a large union here in the US, give to his members... repetitive, self centered, riddled with the same tired jokes he had been recycling for 20 years.

I'm not sure I fully understand -- What exactly bothered you about his later interviews?

To me, the ego has always been there.   It's apparent even from the first few TV interviews in the US, when all that was being discussed was U2 music.   So why would that bother you now?   I think it's just a part of him.   Not necessarily one I find particularly attractive, but I don't think it has become that much worse over the years.

If the problem is that his answers became "repetitive, self centered, riddled with the same tired jokes he had been recycling for 20 years", honestly I don't see repetition in interviews as objectionable.   He's one of the most interviewed people on the planet.  We can't expect him to pour his heart out and plead the case for his pet causes in a fresh and original manner every time he talks.   That would be mentally and emotionally exhausting, and I guess he thinks (and rightly so) that his originality and energy should be kept for his work (U2 and activism), not for *talking* about his work.   (Whether his work in U2 actually demonstrates as much originality and energy as it should is a different matter, but we don't have to go into that here.)

As for "self-centred", I don't see that from his interviews of the past 15 years (I assume this is the period which most bothers you).   Yeah, the man clearly has an ego, but as I said, that's always been there.   And it's not the same as being self-centred.   In fact, I've noticed that whenever an interviewer talks about *his* activist work and what *he* has achieved, he's always quick to deflect the conversation away from *himself* and credit any successes to those actually doing the work on the ground.

Quote from: The Mimsy
Bono manages to go from open, inspiring, approachable, and with an overall sense of a man with a huge heart who lived and breathed his passion to make the injustices of the world once again balanced to what I would would view as a ego maniacal, class separated, corporate mouthpiece (himself being the corporation) who has been doing it so long that it now appears somewhat scripted and tedious....
he now has bought into all of his hype and in turn, has become one of "them." "Them" being the LAST thing I ever wanted to see him morph into.

Who exactly is "them"?   Wealthy corporate types?   Well, Bono's wealthy for sure, but I don't see how you can begrudge him his wealth.   I think it would be praiseworthy if he were to give it all away, but I don't think you can *expect* him to do so.   As for being "corporate", I'm not exactly sure what you're objecting to.   I'm as leery as anyone else of the behemoth U2's business has become, but they were already like that (or well on the way) in 1991.   It's not a recent thing.   And it's not a personal character flaw of Bono in particular.

And he was always about the hype (are you being ironic there?  ;)).   Even as a twentysomething he had such an incredible degree of self-assurance, seeming to buy into what he said about U2 and himself and his beliefs, which I find a bit grating.   If anything, I think it's been toned down in the past 10 years or so.

I definitely wish U2 did a lot of things differently.   But as for Bono himself and his activism, I don't think it's fair to expect him to be any other way.   I don't think he's fundamentally changed.   He's definitely become closer to "the establishment", to big business and political movers, but it's obviously because he thinks (and justifiably so) that this will bring more results.   And how can anyone seriously, in good conscience, begrudge him that?   How can we expect him to be his angry twenty-six year old self if being political gets more done?   I think *that* would be putting his image over his work.   And we know Bono won't do that, cause he rightly puts vision over visibility.

Offline The Mimsy

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2014, 06:03:18 PM »
First of all, thank you for that. That has made the taste in my mouth less bitter. Your points are very valid and I agree with the heart of your response. I think the thing that was so troubling to me was not that, as you would expect, he has gotten older (haven't we all?) and people change as time marches on. It's insanity to think that one should not change and grow as we age. But it was more so that it appears to me that he has lost the initial openness and appreciation I used to see frequently in the earlier stuff we watched. There was a spark there that dims with every passing year. He appears more robotic to me in recent years. One of the things I loved about him was that he glowed when he spoke. I don't see a glow anymore. I see sort of a troubled sense from him and I'm not getting the vibe that it's completely due to the world's issues that he is fighting. There's a callousness there that I didn't see in the earlier material we watched. He appears somewhat humorless in recent years. IMHO.

Offline briscoetheque

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2014, 07:19:21 PM »
Do what I do.

ignore him until he sings.

Offline ZooClothes

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2014, 07:38:59 PM »
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Do what I do.

ignore him until he sings.
U2 inspired me to help create my high schools' chapter of Amnesty International (1988). To paraphrase Edge, who can really argue with championing human rights? But I pretty much follow the above stated philosophy about ignoring him until he sings.

EDIT: I do get a kick out of his speeches at RnR HOF ceremonies.

Offline missey

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2014, 07:39:18 PM »
Have you seen his NAACP speech from a few years ago?  One of the best and most moving I have ever seen him give.
 
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Offline briscoetheque

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2014, 07:39:46 PM »
Hey I ignore Bono.

i don't ignore worthy causes and feel strongly about many of the things for which Bono campaigns.

i just don't listen to him anymore.

Offline The Mimsy

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2014, 12:03:45 AM »
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Do what I do.

ignore him until he sings.

Simple, yet brilliant. Sage advice.

Offline The Mimsy

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2014, 12:10:15 AM »
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Have you seen his NAACP speech from a few years ago?  One of the best and most moving I have ever seen him give.
 
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THAT'S what I'm talking about. That speech was greatness. The spark is there. As is the glow. The sense that he's a man you could approach is evident. He's not robotic, he's not recycling previous words.

HE IS IMPASSIONED HERE. That is the Bono that inspires me, motivates me, makes me wanna hit the ground running and restore the balance to the universe.

Thank you for that. That man giving that speech is brilliant and completely, utterly beautiful on all levels.



Offline So Cruel

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2014, 07:05:48 PM »
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Have you seen his NAACP speech from a few years ago?  One of the best and most moving I have ever seen him give.
 
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The last minute of this clip is in my opinion the best speech I have seen. Bono the Evangelist, inspiring and charismatic as can be. The fire was burning in him. When Bono first started on this journey he would be pictured and campaign with anyone to get the job done, but he didn't necessarily hang out with them, whether it be Hollywood elite, Politicians, or the wealthiest businessmen in the world. He was there to use them (and knowing he was being used also). Fast forward to the last 5 years or so and now Bono isn't just taking pictures with these businessmen, stars, and politicians. He is hanging out with them. He is their friends. That is the big difference I see in him now. I think he's lost a bit of his edge and the fire that once burned very bright is a lot dimmer now. The lines have been blurred and he is now part of the same group he was once trying to use.

Offline The Mimsy

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2014, 07:32:57 PM »
Exactly what I'm getting at. The last minute begs for you to stand up and go get the injustices and slap them around. Now he's vacationing with the top 1% of the rich and famous. From the things I've heard from people who are involved with the band, Ali has huge issues with their rich and famous circle. Apparently, she hasn't changed at all in walk or talk and hasn't exactly been thrilled with the direction that their social circle has taken.

Offline missey

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2014, 08:52:36 PM »
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Exactly what I'm getting at. The last minute begs for you to stand up and go get the injustices and slap them around. Now he's vacationing with the top 1% of the rich and famous. From the things I've heard from people who are involved with the band, Ali has huge issues with their rich and famous circle. Apparently, she hasn't changed at all in walk or talk and hasn't exactly been thrilled with the direction that their social circle has taken.

So you're saying that given the chance he couldn't give the same type of speech now?  What do you think has changed?  Not really ego, that has always been present.  This speech was only a few years ago.  I think given half a chance he could still bring us all to tears.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2014, 08:58:44 PM by missey »

Offline Monicalea

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2014, 09:16:13 PM »
Young Bono is what inspired me to be an activist, humanitarian, whatever you want to call it, but my admiration for him now is pretty shallow. I'm a disaster responder, anti-poverty worker, and general advocate for those whom society generally ignores. I have my own causes to promote and manage, I don't really need Bono anymore.

Offline The Mimsy

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2014, 10:09:19 PM »
There are glimmers of his old passion. But it's not consistent. I truly get the vibe of bring burned out. When I met them we talked mostly about the stuff my band was doing at the time but Larry said to our drummer that his advice to us was to never get comfortable with what we have. And then he followed up with something about how that was the thing he missed most with them was when they were driven by the feeling of not being quite comfortable with what they had accomplished in both music and their causes. The sage advice Bono gave to me was, "When you don't know what else to do, either drink or f*** until you do."

Offline Regina Filangie

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Re: ...and I watch Bono's pedestal come crashing down upon me.
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2014, 06:56:07 AM »
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Exactly what I'm getting at. The last minute begs for you to stand up and go get the injustices and slap them around. Now he's vacationing with the top 1% of the rich and famous. From the things I've heard from people who are involved with the band, Ali has huge issues with their rich and famous circle. Apparently, she hasn't changed at all in walk or talk and hasn't exactly been thrilled with the direction that their social circle has taken.

I believe that Bono is sincere in his desire to help and I respect him a great deal for it.  However, as a fan for over 30 years, I do have a hard time reconciling this person who parties with A-listers (or 18 year old bikini clad girls) with the earnest young guy who seemed to eschew that whole scene.  The Fly/MacPhisto era is when I began a bit of a love/hate relationship with Bono.  Granted, the love side mostly wins but not always.  As for Ali not liking the celebrity schmoozing, I can absolutely believe that.  I get the feeling the words "shut the f*** up" are spoken with some regularity in their house.  I've always gotten the impression that she's his anchor to reality.