Idol Chatter

bono_idol.jpgBono has finally peaked: We’ve forgotten why his Africa campaign used to be newsworthy. In a drubbing that’s as fun to read as it is misguided, Brendan O’Neill, the editor of the opinion website Spiked, blasts “the pompous singer of a pompous rock act” for “his patronizing campaign to single-handedly ‘save Africa,'” which, O’Neill is sure, “is actually damaging the continent.”
Accusing Bono of being just a rocker version of “ladies who lunch,” the Spiked editor’s sends up a rousing cry: “Let us challenge today’s prostitution of African problems for the purposes of Western self-aggrandizement.”
What spoils O’Neill’s fine rant is that Bono’s Africa campaign has always been different from the photo-op drive-bys most rock and screen stars are up for. The U2 lead singer actually bothers to know what he’s talking about. Time magazine’s Michael Elliott put it this way back in 2001: “He does his homework. It’s one thing to hear celebrities talk about ‘doing something’ for a cause. It’s quite another to hear a rock star give a lecture on ‘HIPC conditionality,’ the terms under which the most highly indebted countries of the world are forgiven their loans.”
That’s why Bono gets invited to the G8 summit, why he’s actually likely to do Africa some good, and why we’ve forgotten how completely low the bar for celebrity campaigns used to be. O’Neill’s attack is simply evidence of how effective Bono has been.

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