I’m not sure how to write this, because I feel it’s an upopular opinion.
First, let’s get one thing straight, my first thought when reading THAT Bono interview in the Rolling Stone was, “ok cooooool, old, rich, white guy tells us what’s wrong with music today. NEXT!”
If you missed it, Bono called today’s music “girly” which is an oddly sexist thing to say, in this, the year of our lordess. Plus, it’s pretty rich coming from a guy who was named Glamour’s Woman of the Year in 2016, and wrote With Or Without You.
Bono also said that “hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment—and that’s not good.” Another problematic, and completely tone-deaf statement. Maybe Bono forgot that most festivals this year were headlined by, dare I say, angry, white, male acts. This article, written by Rosin O’Connor says it better than I can. And I highly recommend that you read it.
Now, are you ready for a big, old but?
I also highly recommend that you read Jann Wenner’s interview with Bono in Rolling Stone. Yes, the very one I am complaining about. Like really read it. All of it.
The interview, though long and self-congratulatory at times, speaks very highly of women, and outlines some of the work he has done, and continues to do, for women and girls in the world. Words matter, and Bono should have chosen different ones when talking about today’s music, but I also think having the whole story matters too.
So we won’t ignore the fact that Bono said a couple of really tone-deaf things about music (seriously, read more about that here).
I also want to highlight a few of the things that were said in this interview that you may have missed, that are not about the music.
When asked about the ONE Campaign and the fight against extreme poverty:
“It is becoming a more and more independent organization. Women are stepping to the forefront. Our lead campaign at the moment is called Poverty Is Sexist. And there is another one called Girls Count. About 130 million girls can’t go to school who want to go to school. And I am working more in the background. And that is OK.”
When asked about his involvement in the ONE Campaign:
“I am still heavily involved, but I think it’s healthy that the organization doesn’t have to rely on me. We’ve some brilliant people. Our new boss, Gayle Smith, ran development for President Obama and is a real force – Gayle Force, we call her.”
When asked about the time he visited French President Emmanuel Macron, and his wife Brigitte:
“He had just been elected to one of the most powerful offices in the world. I was really taken by his humility in letting me enter it so jovially. He has a quick and inspiring mind, and a secret weapon of a wife who was super aware of ONE’s push on girls education in the developing world.”
When asked about the time he visited George W. Bush on his ranch:
“Laura [Bush] and [their] two daughters are very proud of the work America has done in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We worked closely together on that. Condoleezza Rice and Bush’s chief of staff, Josh Bolten, also deserve a lot of credit. It is the largest health intervention in the history of medicine. There’s now roughly 20 million lives saved in a war that had previously cost 35 million lives. If you want to think about it this way, as many as half the people who died in the Second World War were lost to a tiny little virus.
And just for fun. I don’t even know what these words mean (but for the record, it was in reference to saying that U2 were in the business of applying for the job of the best band in the world):
“I mean, look, the singer is a crowd-stirrer and a carny barker.”