If I was going to sum up my relationship with Bono as a Facebook status, I’d have to choose “It’s Complicated”. You see, back in the 80’s, I thought he was a golden god. Then in the 90’s, I was starting to get confused. And now I pretty much hate the sight of him. I suppose it’s the same for everyone who is in my age group (aka The Olds).
Yesterday while I was flipping channels, I ran across Palladia showing Rattle and Hum and got sucked in, mostly because I was at the Arizona shows that were filmed for that movie. I surprised myself by bursting into tears when I saw the footage from Arizona. (I was having a very hormonal weekend, I was crying at everything. What a mess.) I had forgotten how much U2 used to mean to me, and how much I used to love them. In 1987, I couldn’t have loved anything more purely than how I loved Bono. He was a poet and a prophet to me.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the first time I encountered Bono and his mullet. MTV used to show the Under a Blood Red Sky concert all the time. It was unavoidable, and I was unable to resist its lure. Bono and his mullet were brand new, and so earnest and sincere. Bono had something to say, but he hadn’t quite figured out what it was yet. He wasn’t overbearing and pompous and sanctimonious yet. He was just a young Irish boy who was in a rock band and wanted to be heard. His mullet was fluffy and clean and had blonde bangs, just like John Taylor of Duran Duran!
The first time that the world took notice of Bono and U2 was during the Live Aid concert. Bono pulled a woman from the crowd to dance with her, and melted my heart. He wanted to be close to his fans! He didn’t take crap from The Man who said it was dangerous, he just dropped the mic and jumped! He was a romantic figure to little girls watching around the world, and his mullet was leonine and stiff. Now that I watch this clip without the rose-colored glasses of youth, I can see that he’s starting to become pompous and self-serving. The seeds are germinating.
U2 reached their peak in 1987 with The Joshua Tree. U2 played four shows in Tempe, Arizona that year, and I went to all four of them. That was the year that the Governor of AZ (Evan Mecham, who was later impeached), decided to take away the MLK holiday. Instead of boycotting AZ, U2 decided to run a campaign of sorts in order to restore the holiday. This is when Bono realized that he could use his power as a rock star to change things politically in the world, and marks the beginning of the end. He was beginning to morph into the unbearable figure we know and loathe today. His hair was getting longer, and not really a mullet anymore. Most of the time it was filthy and unkempt.
I, in my youth, still worshipped him. I signed petitions and campaigned and helped get that bastard Mecham impeached. We got the holiday back too, and when U2 returned in December to film shows for their movie, it was a victory party. I remember the crowd filing out of the stadium after the show, singing 40. It felt like I had just been to church. I felt like I had been a part of something powerful and had accomplished a great task. I know now that all that happened was I had been watching a concert.
In the 1990’s, Bono started having a little fun with his image. I thought he was starting to take himself a little bit less seriously when he did his characters of The Fly and Mr. Macphisto. I liked it when U2 dressed up like the Village People and did a disco song. However, the fan base rebelled and record sales went down and most people were unhappy, so the fun times ended. Bono put away the clown shoes and became even more serious, pompous and pretentious. This is when he became a giant douchebag and a complete joke.
Yes, he does a lot of good in the world (I suppose), but as a rock star, he is finished. I cannot see him in that capacity any longer. I can’t go to U2 shows anymore because I can’t stand looking at him. I feel a huge fiery ball of hatred in my throat and it chokes me. It tastes bitter and mean.
Bono can either be a musician or a politician. He can’t be both. And let’s be honest here, once he shaved off the mullet, it was over.