We’ll always have the sunglasses question, but the media reception to Harry Browne’s new polemic, The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power), raises another lingering query: why can’t this rockstar-billionaire face criticism without throwing a fit?
Music critic Dave Marsh, writing for CounterPunch, reveals his own past dealing with Bono insecurity: in 1984, after hostilely reviewing Unforgettable Fire, Marsh recalls that Bono had him dragged into a one-on-one about the negative press. He praises The Frontman for similarly exposing the famous face of liberal humanitarianism as “a boy who never grew up or faced facts”. But more importantly than Browne’s takedown of the singer himself, Marsh also details how this particular biography is critical to understanding the pitfalls of contemporary liberalism: “what topples is not only Bono’s stature but the excuses his chosen trade, liberal philanthropic paternalism, makes for itself.”
Bono’s defensive response to such accusations only makes its point clearer. As detailed in The Independent, “Rather than sue, Bono has authorised his closest associates to challenge the accusations levelled in the book”. Bill Clinton and One co-founder Jamie Drummond have leapt to their friend’s aid, insisting, “If you really want to effect change… you have to deal with power.” Radio.com also points out that Bono’s appearance on CBS This Morning “comes on the heels of…The Frontman…Though [Charlie] Rose and Bono never mentioned the book, written by Dublin-based writer Harry Browne, the singer’s appearance could be seen as a counter-argument to the unflattering biography.”
In a radio interview with The Take Away, Browne outlines how Bono's informal employment for global corporate interests is hardly benign or ineffectual. Encouraging tax evasion in the UK or foreign investments in Africa actually exacerbates poverty in his chosen targets of goodwill, a link which should seem obvious but is something Bono conveniently chooses to ignore. As a "symbol of the soft nature of the powerful," Bono's enthusiastic mascoting seems determined to apologize for everything from overseas invasions to Monsanto, but steadfastly refuses to