Bono: “Rockstar/Arsehole”

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President George W. Bush shakes hands with Bon...
“You have to do both”: Bono (image: Wikipedia)

What should we make of Bono? Pin-Up for causes like Make Poverty History. What do you see- authenticity or dissonance?

In December U2 will bring the ludicrously ambitious U2 360º tour- described as the largest rock show of all time- to Australia. Andrew Murfett writing in the Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The numbers behind the show are mind-boggling. The tour costs about $750,000 a day to run; its stage, which weighs 390 tonnes, requires two 50 tonne cranes, 180 trucks and six chartered cargo-only 747s to transport.

Murfett goes on to write that the show’s aim- to create an intimate relationship between the band and the 90,000 people each night is regularly achieved.

“Being successful is a lot easier than being relevant” is a claim Bono makes.

Bono is remarkable. Along with U2 they have been recording music which has drawn wide acclaim since 1980 when their first album Boy was released.

Bono says an important part of his role is understanding the world his songs occupy and, if he can, attempting to help shape those issues. When U2 were in Russia for their first concert eight weeks ago, Bono had a 90-minute meeting with the President, Dmitry Medvedev. The U2 concert in Russia was controversial the next day not least for them bringing Russian dissident Yuri Shevchek on stage. Murfett writes that Bono has an unparalleled ability to parlay his profile into helping causes. Bono says:

You have to do both. You have to be able to speak with the government and also those who are the enemy of the government. That’s our gig.

So how is he regarded outside of the adoring coterie of fans who also champion his causes? “Generally it’s more ‘rockstar/arsehole’. It’s ‘Oh, that’s Bono, he’s the rockstar/arsehole'” is how Bono describes it.

I found it interesting to reflect on this after David Suzuki spoke at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday night. Different methods to achieve the same point? Consider it this way: what would the world be like without the Bono’s and Hugh Jackman’s who roam the world raising profile of these causes?

Raising awareness is a long and slow process. My mate Matt da Silva described the process as involving “Cut-through. Telling stories. Engagement. Stamina.” during the week. I though that was insightful.

Let’s give the last word to Bono:

I just like getting things done.


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