Hey so, I bought Joshua Tree. I went into a store at the tender age of 14, put money down on the counter and listened to it. A bit. I didn’t give it the sort of rampant overkill I reserved for a band like Blink 182 at that age. But to be honest I bought it just because I had decided that I liked music and wanted to be a music fan. I just figured from everything that U2 were a band you had to like. It seemed so obvious! The dark glasses! The pretentious interviews! Hell, they even sound-tracked that scene in Friends when Ross and Rachel had split up and were both moodily clutching pillows and staring out their windows while it was raining. Ross and Rachel, people. Ross. And Rachel.
But I forgot about U2. Joshua Tree faded into the darkness of my collection, pulled out occasionally at flat parties when some low-IQ meat-pack of a human being wanted to bum rush the stereo for some emotional ballad to try and hook up with a similarly low caste female to. They just slipped out of my mental consciousness. You realize how nice a Bono free world is when you are living in the vacuum surrounding a U2 album launch, the wordy interviews, the ridiculous photo opportunities and the gnawing frustration that you couldn’t really even recognize the other three members if they kicked you in the nuts. (Except maybe the Edge, but only because of that ridiculous moustache.) And then my ambivalent dislike turned into a seething hatred. How, you ask? With the release of How To Dismantle an Atom Bomb, their latest and most pretentiously named album, an album that opened my eyes and forced me to see the truth in cold daylight, that Bono, is a fucking douche. It was so bad that it swept the Grammy’s. Grammy’s are awful, shades above regular old stinking awful. The album bought Bono into every magazine and TV screens worldwide. For the first time my fully grown mind could wrap itself around the full dimensions of his unreasonably distorted ego.
Bono is eligible for douche labeling because he meets the following criteria, as laid out in the Douche Code, available in all good bookstores (it’s like the Da Vinci Code, but without a single reference to Jesus).
a) Grandiose illusions of higher importance
Bono is what is wrong with the political celebrity type, but worse. He isn’t a Sean Penn or a Matt Damon or a Tim Robbins. He isn’t even a Susan Sarandon. He’s worse. He hasn’t even chosen a side to fight for. Instead he sits in the middle campaigning for those ridiculous movements that will never succeed. He wouldn’t speak out against George Bush who sends people to war, and panders to an economic situation that sees African children starve. No he’ll never be mean to George, because if he actual took a political stand that meant anything real he wouldn’t make it on the cover of Time wrapped up in an American flag. You’re Irish, you dickhead.
b) Egomaniac and c) looks silly
The man went on CNN debating 3rd world debt with Bill Clinton a battle that pitted a musician against a very competent and talented American President. And Bono actually wore those glasses on stage and wore a leather jacket. Clinton’s a good looking dude in a suit who knows his shit, beating down on a ratty looking pretentious suit. It was good to watch him get beaten so badly, but who the hell did he think he was being there in the first place? Also look at every U2 profile ever written and try and not cringe through his ball-busting monologues. Oh. Dear. God. Cue classic Rolling Stone observation: “if there is one thing about Bono that is certain, it would be the fact that he likes to talk.” Just once let the other band members talk, ok?
d) His band isn’t actually that good.
In a 2005 collection of musical literature Kill Your Idols, famed rock critic Jim DeRogatis espouses that we should look beyond the cannon of untouchable music handed down by previous generations to see that much of it is flawed. U2 thrive around the generic. ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ which I’m pretty sure is about love, is so lyrically bland that when you read the lyrics it could be about something as vague as a carpenter looking for a perfect hammer. ‘Beautiful Day’ and ‘Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of’ are two of the most turgid middle of the road numbers I’ve ever heard. They named their last album How to Dismantle an Atom Bomb, a title that bounces with grandiose political feeling but hides nothing but harrowing unintelligence underneath.
A sentiment I believe sums Bono up in one.
All hail Bono, king of the douche.
Bea’s Right of Reply
James, quite aside from the obvious irony of a Salient Editor (a position reserved for the supremely egotistical if ever I saw one) dismissing someone else for being egotistical, you are, as I write this, wearing dark glasses indoors! Ha! My point was that Bono has elected to do something worthwhile with his fame, and as irritating as his attempts to do so may be, it cannot be seen as anything other than a good thing. Can you honestly say that you think it is a BAD thing that he wants to spend his vast wealth on eradicating AIDS in Africa? Would you rather he built a theme park and touched small children? Or perhaps you’d like it if he spent his time driving a vast modified Bentley round off his head on ice with a dozen semi automatics in the boot? I think Bono has quite rightly realised that while deriding Bush is all very well and popular (and ooh, Michael Moore has so much respect for that), nothing’s gonna shake the guy, and thus the only thing to do is try and work with him, distasteful as that may be. You cannot deny that Bono has the best interests of millions at heart, and if you think that makes him a douche, well, all I can say is that you are an apathetic shit. Anyway, you bullied me into writing this.