Friday, November 28th, 2008...4:33 pm
The 10 Commandments of Bono
By Rassam Fakour-Zaker
Know Your Money Editor
Time Magazine Person of the Year 2005, three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Messiah of Rock ‘n’ Roll™, Guardian of Humanity™, Saviour of Africa™, Patron Saint of Cowboy Hats™.
He’s probably too busy to get around to this, so I thought I’d save him getting the stone tablets out and post them here first. So for all of you who have uttered, in a time of darkness, that immortal plea for guidance – “What would BONO do?” – here’s some clarification:
Thou Shalt Not Worship Any Gods Before Me
First and foremost, Bono demands that we adhere to this fundamental rule. Some may mock, but whether he is saving the world one continent at a time or patronising leaders of other faiths, it is clear that Paul Hewson is the earthly vessel of the Lord Bono Vox (that’s Latin for “Good Voice”, in case you were in any doubt as to the majesty of his heavenly singing).
Practising Bonoists have been following his divine teachings since the early-80s Mullet Era. But now it seems that other religions are starting to wise up and preach the word of Bono.
Thou Shalt Not Steal (Cowboy Hats)
In 2006 Bono taught mankind that theft is a grave sin. Even if the victim is a multi-millionaire. And the stolen item is a hat. And the perpetrator is an ex-employee. Who maintains that the hat was a gift. And the theft occurred in 1987. Even then, the principle holds, and justice must be done. Even if it makes you look petty.
Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
There was much controversy last month over the (un-incriminating) photographs of Bono and two attractive, bikini-clad young ladies that were plastered all over Facebook, then subsequently (and inexplicably) all over the front page of the Mail on Sunday, then predictably (and amusingly) all over the web, and finally replicated here, just for reference.
However, Bono, it should be stressed, is a committed family man. And, as just about every article that ran these pictures carefully stated, his “26-year marriage to wife Ali is famously strong”.
Follow his virtuous example people. But be mindful of the dangers of social network sites.
Though Shalt Go Forth and Promote the New Gospel of Wealth
Bono’s perspective on wealth is a thorny issue for his followers due to the bewildering contradictions inherent in his actions and teachings. But on careful inspection one can glean his true underlying message.
For beneath the selfless anti-poverty posturing, lies a person in thrall to materialistic aspirations of wealth and fame; evinced, not only by his substantial personal fortune (estimated at well over £400m), but also by his recent acquisition of a 40% stake in Forbes Media through his private equity fund, Elevation Partners.
I think it’s fair to surmise that, despite the philanthropic façade, the co-owner of Forbes – a peaen to all that is filthy rich and capitalist – cannot be overly-enthusiastic about wealth redistribution.
Thou Shalt Hypocritically Dodge Taxes
Hypocrisy is to Bonoism, as forgiveness is to Christianity. Thus, when it comes to legal obligations – such as paying taxes – Bono teaches us to exploit loopholes whilst sanctimoniously commanding others to give more money to those in need.
Bono revealed this enlightened path to us poor mortals in 2006 when his band moved their music publishing company from Ireland to the Netherlands in order to avoid new Irish legislation and benefit from the lenient Dutch taxes on musicians (a common path for rock ‘n’ roll deities to follow).
Some argue that this is at odds with Bono’s campaigning for increased aid and debt-relief for Africa. Which is hard to deny in light of the recent Christian Aid report which denounced tax-dodging as the “new slavery”, citing it as a major cause of child poverty and blaming it for the deaths of 1,000 children a day in developing countries (as discussed in a previous blog). Obviously, this report should be dismissed as blasphemy by true believers.
Thou Shalt Murder (Classic Songs)
Having anointed many classics with his blessed banality from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, it would appear that Bono is very much pro-murder. His re-imagining of Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love is particularly annoying.
Though Shalt Be Charitable (if it is Personally Lucrative and Counter-Productive)
As a world-famous philanthropist, Bono has dedicated his life to campaigning for charity. It should be pointed out, however, that he advocates a particular model of charity; one exemplified by his high-profile Product (RED) campaign, described on the website as “a business model designed to create awareness and a sustainable flow of money from the private sector into the Global Fund, to help eliminate AIDS in Africa.”
Sounds like Bono’s worked miracles by efficiently uniting capitalism and altruism, right? Well, not quite. Last year Advertising Age reported on the disparity between the campaign’s advertising costs (estimated as high as $100m) and the amount raised for the Global Fund (just $18m). Elsewhere, BuyLessCrap.org and others, have taken issue with the campaign’s inference that consumerism is an effective solution to the world’s problems by calling for people to bypass (RED) and donate directly to the Global Fund.
Before taking out a (RED) credit card or buying a (RED) iPod, check out the excellent collection of compelling essays concerning the counter-productiveness of the campaign and its perpetuation of African disempowerment in the current issue of the Journal of Pan African Studies.
Thou Shalt Live a Life of Hypocritical Excess
Bono’s teachings on excess are best demonstrated by the Parable of The Flying Cowboy Hat. This widely-reported and fist-clenchingly annoying story tells of the alleged thousands that he paid to fly his beloved, sweaty little hat first-class from London to Italy for a live performance. You can almost picture his benevolent face as he screamed at some lowly assistant, “screw the expense, screw the environment, I want me FECKIN’ HAT.”
Perhaps this event was intended to be allegorical – maybe it means that, in today’s world, if you’re a rich rock star, you can act like a tosspot.
Thou Shalt Sell Out to Big Politics
One of Bono’s most influential teachings is that the UK government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and the US Bush administration are the true heroes of our time. He has taught us that they are visionaries who, like himself, have selflessly dedicated themselves to making this world a better place, to provide relief from poverty and disease for the disenfranchised of the world.
In 2004, while cosying up to the British government at the Labour party’s annual conference, Bono shamelessly described Blair and Brown as the “Lennon and McCartney of global development. Two years later during his speech at the US National Prayer Breakfast Bono personally praised the President for the lives he has saved in Africa (much to the chagrin of many), despite Bush’s questionable legacy in that continent.
Many argue that it’s damaging for a man of Bono’s undeniable prominence, influence and veneration to offer partisan political support whilst also aligning himself with protest and activism. Naomi Klein, for example, argues that Bono’s actions legitimise the structures that true activism seeks to change; as she puts it: “the story of globalization is the story of inequality. What’s been lost in the Bono-ization is ability to change these power structures. There are still the winners and losers, people who are locked in to the power structures and those locked out.”
Thou Shalt Spend, Spend, Spend
A committed follower of Bonoism must also be a committed consumer. As expounded by his (RED) campaign, through consumption comes salvation. It seems iPods are especially revered objects in Bonoism (although it is unclear whether this is due to an innate quality or due to the fat paycheque Bono picks up from Apple).