Veteran satirist Tom Lehrer said that the world of comedy changed in 1973 when the greatest living war criminal, Henry Kissinger, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. ‘At that moment, satire died. There was nothing more to say after that’.
If, during Bono’s cosying up to the G8 last summer, I’d done a sketch about him launching a consume-to-give campaign, urging people to buy products made by sweatshop barons Nike and Gap, it would’ve seemed like a cheap shot.
It would’ve gotten plain unfunny if I’d said there’d be a ‘help Africa by buying a special mobile phone’ idea.
I’m just one of many who’ve written about how Central African mining of coltan – the metal for mobile phone chips – is the catalyst for the largest war on earth and the destruction of World Heritage rainforest habitat and wildlife.
To say Bono would endorse flogging a ‘sexy, sophisticated, groovy’ phone for Africa would be too far gone. He couldn’t possibly be so ignorant. Someone who says he’s been spending years looking into Africa’s problems would surely have stumbled across a war that has killed tens of millions over the last 12 years, drawing in troops from Libya in the north to Zimbabwe in the south.
Yet as Bono edited an edition of The Independent on Tuesday for his Red campaign, all this happened and more. He fakes humility, claiming rock stars can’t instigate real change, with an clever-clever wink that saying so in a campaign edition of a national newspaper means the opposite.
Bono’s march towards embracing corporate power has been steady and relentless. He anguishes over poverty but never wishes to explore the root causes. He’s as isolated inside his media bubble as any D.C. politician.