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March 6, 2006 | by  | in Features |
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Pro-Bono

Like many BA students, a long time ago I attempted first year law. In my first ever law lecture, the guy next to me put up his hand in the middle of the lecture and said, “what if you’re a lawyer, and some guy asks you to represent him, and he’s accused of something like rape, and you’re pretty sure he did it? Do you have to take the case, even though you’re morally against it?” The answer? Yes, you have to take it. No matter how sure you are that he did it, the only way for the victim to get their ‘day in court’ is for someone to agree to represent the accused impartially, and to the best of their abilities. Thus, I accept to represent Bono, in order that that we may have a fair and just trial. I don’t doubt that James will resort to all sorts of nasty illegal trickery, from everyone’s favourite, defamation, to good old fashioned character assassination, the last resort of those without a case. However, having been instructed by James that I have to defend Bono because “I don’t want to and I’m your boss so nyah” and despite the fact that he (Bono, not James. Although, actually, James too) irritates me deep in the depths of my soul, I’m going to do a good job without resorting to petty insults. Nyah to you, James.

Let’s start with the obvious. Bono is responsible for some pretty fucking great songs have entered collective popular culture. Whether or not you actually like U2, it’s impossible to deny the social and cultural impact of ‘One,’ ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ and ‘With Or Without You’. These are songs that are instantly recognisable to a cross-generational audience. Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam have that rare ability to write songs that are capable of crossing language, age and social borders. I don’t care what you may personally think of them – these are undeniably good songs. They are great, uplifting, meaningful songs that are meant to be belted out in stadiums to thousands. Sellout, you cry? Can your favourite shoe gazing indie band who refuse to play venues with a capacity greater than 200 write songs that speak directly to everyone from a 16-year-old kid to a 60-year-old man who saw his family torn apart by ‘The Troubles’? No. No, they can’t. That’s why U2 fill stadiums. Because in addition to writing great sounding music, Bono writes lyrics that people can identify with. You can call his lyrics contrived, or populist, or even just crap, but the fact is that he writes about things that mean an awful lot to a hell of a lot of people. Bono’s lyrics are responsible for bringing the Irish problems to a new world stage, and for speaking for the Irish themselves, rather than letting the latest Times article on the latest IRA bombing do the talking. I defy you to think of a better articulation of the rage and pain of an entire people than ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday.’

Now I must address perhaps the most annoying Bono of all: Bono the Goodwill Ambassador, Bono the speech maker, the Holier-than-thou Bono. But let’s be objective here for a second. So you have all this fame, and all this money. What do you do with it? Well, if you’re a Gallagher, you act like an obnoxious prat to everyone you possibly can, assault press members, and have a baby with an All Saint. If you’re Aerosmith, you go on a worldwide drugs binge, embarrassing yourself as much as humanly possible along the way. (And take legal custody of a 15 year old girl for sexual purposes- Ed) If you’re Led Zeppelin, you stick a gurnard up a groupie. And if you’re Justin Timberlake, why, you write the McDonald’s theme song. Maybe Bono makes us uncomfortable because he defies our social norms of how a rock star ought to behave, what with marrying his high school sweetheart, supporting dozens of charities, working for the UN, getting awards and adulation showered upon him by Amnesty International and being touted for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. Not to mention the fact that he is a devout Christian. (Scott Stapp take note: behave like a Christian, rather than musically battering people over the head with your beliefs.) None of this is how we want our rock stars to behave. But really, you have to ask what the fuck has gone wrong in the world when excessive drug and alcohol consumption, evil corporate conglomerate endorsing and animal abuse are more culturally acceptable than giving a shit about the world’s impoverished, diseased and oppressed. That feeling of intense irritation you get when you look upon the face of Bono is the feeling of your conscience berating you. It’s sometimes nice to ignore our conscience, but you can never escape the fact that it is right.

James’ Right of Reply
Lets talk about petty insults. I make no reference of you in my piece. I talk only of facts. The glasses at the computer was me getting in character. To understand a douche you must become one. I neither defame nor assassinate Bono, or you. And yes, I prefer my rock stars to take drugs. It’s good to do as expected, because when people like Bono try to cross over into a realm in which they were not intended to be in, the results can sometimes be as awkward as Dennis Rodman’s acting. And Robert Smith married his high school sweetheart. He’s not a douche though. He’s just fucking miserable. Adam Ant, Gary Glitter, George Michael and Michael Jackson all wrote songs that are still part of the collective echelon of popular culture. And they are douches… and sodomists… How’s that Bea? A little defamation and character assassination all in one. Happy now?

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About the Author ()

BORN WITH a cigarette in one hand and The Trial in other, Bea meant to go on as she started. Music wasn’t her first love, but her first love ended in a fight over rightful ownership of a Velvet Underground LP and the kitchen knife, so she chose the kinder option and stuck with it. In her spare time she enjoys casting aspersions, skulking, and making sweeping statements. She never checks her facts: figures it’s a way to live a little, to have arguments with people, then meet them. She’s currently writing a collection of short stories inspired by Schopenhauer’s manifesto of suffering and the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. When it gets published, she’s pretty sure that boy will want to hold her hand.

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