U2 Can B A Rock Star Prez
March 1, 2005 9:05 PM   Subscribe

U2 Can B A Rock Star Prez. The president of the World Bank is traditionally an American. But in a recent editorial the L.A. Times nominated third-world debt relief activitist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee and--oh yeah--U2 frontman for the soon-to-be-vacant position. With economic tutoring from "probably the most important economist in the world", the singer/activist (and self-confessed egomaniac) has spent the last 5 years lobbying the World Bank and IMF to help African nations break the decades' old cycle of debt by combining debt relief with improved trade and AIDS assistance. After a stint as celebrity spokesmodel for Jubilee2000, then founding a similar DATA Agenda funded by Bill Gates, he's developed cred as "a serious player on Third World debt". "It's about the right to begin again," Bono says. "The right to be free of your past..." President Bono: a chance to reform the World Bank from the inside, or celebrity poser? Readers' response... [BugMeNot for the reg-only sites]
posted by nakedcodemonkey (32 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Er, that should be "...self-confessed egomanic".
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:07 PM on March 1, 2005

"Am I buggin' ya? I don't mean to bug ya."
posted by steelbuddha at 9:08 PM on March 1, 2005

Better Bono than Carly Fiorentina! Then again, when do I ever agree with a Bush Administration decision anyway?
posted by billsaysthis at 9:13 PM on March 1, 2005

No point in repeating myself.
posted by Ryvar at 9:15 PM on March 1, 2005

posted by trondant at 9:23 PM on March 1, 2005

I thought it was traditional to award the position to Defense Secretaries who, believing in their own technocratic superiority, take the nation into a quagmire.

So naturally I assumed the next President of the World Bank would be "Robert S." Rumsfeld.
posted by orthogonality at 9:33 PM on March 1, 2005

I never know how I should feel about Bono. He's full of himself, he thinks he's too cool for school, and if you pricked him with a pin a noxious gas would emerge. But on the other hand, I don't think his charity efforts are just posturing; I think he genuinely has a big warm heart and wants to help people out. Bono's been transformed by celebrity into something foolish and comical, but I don't really doubt that in his own simple-minded little way, he wants to do good and is doing so in the only way he knows how. And in the process, he's doing more good than most of us will ever do.

Advocating his leading the World Bank is just celebrity worship though. There are plenty of people out there with similarly big hearts and with more knowledge who just lack his clout.
posted by painquale at 9:48 PM on March 1, 2005

"The right to be free of your past..."

Thanks, Bono, but how about giving us a chance to be free of your past, you giftless shit? Those terrible records, the name dropping, the posturing and posing, that line from "do they know it's christmas?" that you "made your own", the semiotics-for-dummies-themed world tours, the fact that some bloke in your band said "I want to be known as 'The Edge' from now on" and you didn't just say "Fuck off, you tosser," you said "Cool, well I'll be 'Bono Vox', then", the years of Eno's life that you've wasted... Show the world some real compassion, mate, and free us from all of that
posted by bunglin jones at 9:59 PM on March 1, 2005

I guess if you can believe that Arnold Schwartzenneger (sp) is actually a closet financial geek/wizard (as has been claimed), then you can believe that Bono is actually a closet financial geek/wizard. They're equally reasonable possibilities to consider; after all, both continue to live quite well on the proceeds of their fame, whereas many stars of their caliber crash and burn financially over time. Sound financial management is a big part of that, and we have no way of knowing if that's being handled by another person or by each of them individually.

That said, fame of their sort is a two-edged sword: on the one hand, it gives someone who might otherwise never obtain power and influence over people an opportunity to become a prominent and important figure...yet exists as a serious impediment to being perceived as credible figures of power and influence outside of the entertainment industry itself.

One only has to look at celebrities who speak about politics to see this at work; on the one hand, the masses (including us) mock any celebrity who makes a public stand about something important, even if we agree with them, yet we long to have that platform to trumpet the same cause ourselves.

Celebrities: we worship them, and yet we do not respect them. What does that say about us?

Answer: perhaps not a whole lot, since this group probably doesn't do much of the celebrity worship thing per capita; I'm referring to us as in everyone non-famous and non-powerful collectively.
posted by davejay at 10:13 PM on March 1, 2005

In a better world, someone would smelt his permanent sunglasses and drip the molten mixture into his wrenched-open eyelids, and then launch him in the direction of some remote, uninhabited constellation millions of lightyears away so that, orbiting uselessly around some arid and desolate planet in the furthest, coldest reaches of the universe, he could live up to his self-image of being the most important being in the galaxy.
posted by ori at 10:30 PM on March 1, 2005

Well, the band is, after all, way past its prime.
posted by Fupped Duck at 10:38 PM on March 1, 2005

Celebrities: we worship them, and yet we do not respect them. What does that say about us?

Is says that we, like Bono, are not that smart (we worship them) but our heart is in the right place (we don't respect them).
posted by Ryvar at 10:44 PM on March 1, 2005

Feh. Bono's doing something about global poverty, AIDS, and Third World Debt - we're sitting on the intarweb bitching about him.

In my world, he gets the moral high ground.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:03 PM on March 1, 2005

What Space Kitty said.
posted by rolypolyman at 11:20 PM on March 1, 2005

The guy's an ass (I'm still irrationally annoyed at U2 over the whole Negativland thing) but if his heart's in the right place, maybe some good will come if it.

And he probably won't be making any more dreadful, derivative recordings while he'd be in the post. Everyone wins!
posted by jackiemcghee at 11:30 PM on March 1, 2005

Bah!! Give it to Henry Rollins!!
posted by Balisong at 12:33 AM on March 2, 2005

I'm with Space Kitty. Bono hasn't been using (to my knowledge anyway) his fame and celebrity to just get hookers and good drugs, he's put his money and time where his considerable mouth is. He founded DATA (the source of the One Campaign) and he's using his resources to draw attention to and work for public policy change in about the least sexiest cause you could conjur up.

I think he'd be a bad fit to run the World Bank (and he'd probably agree), though he has proven quite adept at being part of the leadership of a several hundred person organization that has been around for more than two decades and makes tens of millions of dollars called U2 so he obviously has some competencies.

Not bad for a giftless shit.
posted by donovan at 2:40 AM on March 2, 2005

isn't the world bank pretty much ok? i was under the impression it was the imf that was in more serious need of changes. in fact, you could see this as a way to make the world bank less of a threat to the imf. if stiglitz rips the imf another asshole, people tend to listen. when it's bono, they can just smirk and get back to work.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:50 AM on March 2, 2005

Not bad for a giftless shit.

oh... yeah, well I didn't say he hadn't done well for himself...
posted by bunglin jones at 2:58 AM on March 2, 2005

this whole thing gives bob geldhof a raging bono.
posted by quonsar at 5:32 AM on March 2, 2005

I'd think that the World Bank would probably use him as a puppet. Have him "in charge", but take advantage of the fact that he probably doesn't have the financial and management abilities to know when the real bosses are pulling a fast one. Real reform needs someone with both a desire for reform and real financial experience, and who has the clout to change things.
posted by unreason at 5:49 AM on March 2, 2005

It bugs me when people dismiss U2 ("over the hill") and Bono ("he's full of himself"). They've released several great records (including their most recent) and genuinely seem like decent people. Bono tries to at the very least do something noble with his fame - and yet you'll find loads of people who passionately hate the band and the singer. Honestly, what on earth could you want from a rock band?
posted by davebush at 6:00 AM on March 2, 2005

IMHO, people who "passionately hate the band and singer" (whatever the band and whoever the singer) are merely jealous. If they really just disliked the music, they could listen to something else, but to feel the need to tell everyone over and over again how much you hate the music - well, that to me smacks of low self-esteem and petty kicks.

(Oh, I met Bono once. He was a twat.)
posted by benzo8 at 6:54 AM on March 2, 2005

Honestly, what on earth could you want from a rock band?

Good music? The last record sounds like they left ATYCLB in the fridge for a year or two and then tried to re-heat it in the oven at too low of a temperature for not long enough. It's warm on the outside but the insides are cold and bland. ("Freedom has the scent of the top of a newborn baby's head"????)

A smidgen of integrity would be nice, too, actually, from a band that's built their persona around it. A friend of mine who's a U2 fan extraordinaire has just about given up on them since their ticket-selling debacle (in which paid members of the U2 fanclub were supposed to get first chance to buy tickets for the new tour, but weren't) and since he couldn't get a seat at the free concert here in NYC via the website until he stopped entering his real age (30+) and said that he was 21. Oh, and since the new album isn't very good. That bothered him as well.
posted by papercake at 7:10 AM on March 2, 2005

Sound financial management is a big part of that, and we have no way of knowing if that's being handled by another person

Paul McGuinness for World Bank prez!

He is U2s manager and chief financial whiz. He has literally made them a fortune and I don't doubt Bono is financially well informed simply from sharing space with this man for as long as he has.
posted by fshgrl at 7:30 AM on March 2, 2005

Yeah, Achtung Baby and Joshua Tree are fantastic albums. I used to like U2 a lot (when the whole U2/REM rivalry was at its climax), but the band has not aged well at all, and it unfortunately colors the way I hear their earlier music.
posted by painquale at 9:48 AM on March 2, 2005

Celebrities: we worship them, and yet we do not respect them.

I'm not trying to mount any sympathy for celebrities here - it's not that hard a life, really - but it does seem true that once you get to a certain level of fame, there is a certain segment of the public that will hate you no matter what you do. If you're self-absorbed and vacuous and demanding, you're wasting your 15 minutes on trivialities, and if (as in this case) you try to use your fame to draw attention to the world's ills, you're pretentious and self-important.

For the record, I used to find Bono's posturing a bit grating myself, but this feature in The Guardian a few years back changed my mind.

The gist of it is that Bono decided that if he learned to talk about the problems of international debt and such in the language used by the sort of people who meet in Davos every year, he might be able to use the banal chitchat moments during photo ops to make the case for the causes he supported. And whaddaya know? It worked like gangbusters, and he singlehandedly did as much to get the world's major powerbrokers to take the problems of Africa seriously as anyone. Which I just can't find cause to fault him for, even if he is sometimes a bit sanctimonious in interviews, and even if I haven't really dug a U2 album since Achtung Baby.
posted by gompa at 10:18 AM on March 2, 2005

IMHO, people who "passionately hate the band and singer" (whatever the band and whoever the singer) are merely jealous.

I have no problem with the band (outside of the type of person who actually goes and names themself 'The Edge'), nor is the music the worst thing I've heard. I don't like it at all, but there's far worse out there.

What kills me is Bono himself, and it's the furthest thing from jealousy. I would honestly rather pour gasoline over myself and toss the match then be Bono.

"It's about the right to begin again," Bono says. "The right to be free of your past..."

How can you read that without laughing at how utterly vapid the man clearly is? Economics is serious business, not a realm for inflated singers who offer us platitudes in place of policy points.

How can you not be outraged at the audacity of someone to exploit 9/11 during a fucking football halftime show? How can you see someone do that without wanting to watch them be slowly butchered?

I find Bono to be ridiculous, overrated, and a lying manipulative shit bent on feeding his cult of personality and servile fans. I'm not one to dance at people's funerals, but in his case I'll make an exception.
posted by Ryvar at 11:37 AM on March 2, 2005

Suggesting you lighten up isn't going to do much good, is it?
posted by benzo8 at 12:02 PM on March 2, 2005

To all who are experiencing cognitive dissonance and fits of apoplexy over Bono's activism: it helps if you realize that Bono sees himself as a bit of a preacher-man -- essentially a showman with a spiritual message.
posted by growli at 2:00 PM on March 2, 2005

Just an FYI, the whole Negativland dealie was more the record company than U2 (though it still bothers me; I think the band should've done something about it). Mondo 2000 had an interview with "The Edge" that they covertly invited Negativland to participate in which explains the situation quite well. Favorite quote:

RUS: In fact, maybe it's time for me to interject here. The folks that you've been talking to, Don and Mark, aside from being occasional contributors to Mondo 2000, are members of a band called Negativland.

E: Ahhhhhh!
posted by nTeleKy at 2:45 PM on March 2, 2005

nTeleKy, that was a great interview! Did The Edge ever return their phone calls when they came back to him asking for a loan?
posted by painquale at 7:20 PM on March 2, 2005

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