Blackberry Loves U2

Don’t get me wrong, I really loved the music. But maybe there should be a higher level of responsibility for musicians. They are, after all, handling dangerous goods: music is viral, contagious, a magic. Bono seems to appreciate this. He comes from a place of privelege, knows it, and acts on it.

Toronto, Rogers (iPhone network provider) Centre, September 16, 2009: Bono introduces the band and says he is more salesman than shaman. From a long line of them. He shrugs off the Blackberry ads with a self-deprecating laugh.

But that is, after all, the whole point, isn’t it? We can, hand in hand with our salesmen and traders, change the world. I can’t gainsay Tutu, can I? We are the same people who have brought change. It’s about compromises and sponsors, me and all the other people who came of age in the 80s and who trade the properties or manage or own the call centres that sold the tickets that brought us all here together one love tonight we’re the same. Iran. Burma Political, yes, but also brand elements now.

Did Bono read Klein? Yorke did. And I don’t remember a Blackberry ad at the Molson Amphitheatre when Radiohead played there.

I am writing this on my iPhone, and I don’t know where that leaves me with U2. Do they reciprocate the Blackberry love or are they just tolerating a little pilot fish trying to hitch a ride to a place called vertigo?

But the compromise with the bondtrader behind me crooning every word is that it’s all OK, it’s all incremental, it’s all about small steps: leave the big steps to the big boys who know what they’re doing. Bono cannot, for instance, say: “Stop paying your taxes until Canada forgives all debt to Africa” or “General strike!” or–well, the list of things he cannot say probably dwarfs those he can. I’m not saying these are good ideas, I’m just saying he can’t say them and keep Blackberry’s love.

So U2’s politics are then a sort of globalized compromise with the Freedom brand, and that is why they are suspect: the compromises necessary to sustain a global property as huge as “U2″ ends up dwarfing the political commitments, so that they become, ultimately, an aspect of the brand. Bomo’s politics are a cute aspect of his personality that lend warmth and charm to the show.

Bono could care less about my discomfort: his marketing strategy is precisely to sell us a viral politics, the rebel payload inside the feel-good music, and it’s a strategy that’s hard to argue with when “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” goes green and we’re learning the power of images we first learned of on Twitter. And who’s going to argue with Tutu when he tells us that we are the change we want to see in the world? We’re already there, Toronto: I finish up this little piece and expect, then, when I talk to the accountants and lawyers who were at the show last night that everything will have changed, right?

Sent from my iPhone

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