In The Name Of Love: A Defense Of Bono


Emma Harris

Bono and his pride; it’s all done in the name of love.

A clatter of drums, the vibration of the bass through the veins, chilling sounds of the guitar riff, and the booming voice of the lead singer, Bono; it all seems surreal and truthfully inefable, and the pure genius of the music is enough to send cracks of electricity down anyone’s spine. This magic the band U2 has been fabricating and weaving through society for 43 years can certainly be attributed to all of its members, but all of U2’s fans know that the band would not be the same without their sunglasses-clad Bono, a proficient lyricist who pours passion into his music. However, Bono has not captured the love of everybody; he often receives a fairly large sum of hate every time he breathes in public. All of this hate is ‘justified’ by people in fits of rage, and the most predominant reason seems to be rooted in the detestment of his ‘big ego’ and ‘pretentious nature.’ I have a major problem with this. 

   In 2017, U2 was forced to cancel their show in St. Louis, MO, much to the disappointment of hundreds. However, a certain Daniel Hill did not quite share his peers’ feelings, jumping on an opportunity to write a news story for the Riverfront Times about U2 and their lead singer. “At least we didn’t have to deal with Bono, the most pretentious of all mononymous artists (no small feat),” he wrote. Many people seem to think the same way as Daniel Hill, as Michael Hann tried to capture what he has noticed other people have to say in his own article: “Above all, he [Bono] could stop being so pious all the time. He could stop making his own good deeds seem like something to aspire to,” he writes. 

        Before you start to bash Bono for being pretentious, you might remember society’s ingraven tendency to expect perfection from well-known figures, and especially from people who have been labeled as a humanitarian. Bono happens to fit under both of these categories and he pays the price for that. Michael Hann, however, appears to be one of the few that recognize this: “The problem with Bono is that once you align yourself so publicly with the side of social justice, people- unrealistically, perhaps- demand perfection.” Noel Gallagher seems to think this is the reason people hate Bono too; “Nobody likes a do-gooder,” the lead singer of Oasis stated. 

The biggest problem resides not with Bono, but the people who judge and scorn him from behind their glowing screens. Society cannot expect perfection all the time, and honestly, Bono could be much worse- he’s not promoting drugs like a fair amount of rock stars do, he donates millions of dollars, works with multiple charities, and genuinely cares about people. 

The reality remains that Bono can actually be credited for stepping one above his fellow rockstars. The extent of Bono’s good nature and deeds goes beyond just the framework of being a rockstar, breaching into being such a large benefactor to the world that he has been quite literally knighted. Yes, Bono has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth herself, which is, to say, no small feat. In fact, this leather-loving lead singer has been both knighted and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice. And to those who hate Bono for being stuck up and too self-praising, they might want to reconsider their negative emotions after learning exactly everything Bono has selflessly committed to supporting, including over a million people in Africa that can attribute their very lives to him. “He has campaigned for Aids awareness. […]  He’s supported, variously, Chernobyl Children International, the Clinton Global Initiative, […]  He’s helped establish three different campaigning organisations: Red, ONE, and DATA (Debt, Aids, Trade, Africa). This is not an insignificant list,” journalist Michael Hann writes, knowing that this is not even the extent of his generosity. 

The list he created alone ticks off twenty different organizations and charities, meaning Bono is genuinely and wholly committed to helping people. Dave Fanning touches this in a highly perceptive way: “You know, he could just stay in bed all day […] but he doesn’t do that. He gets up and he does stuff, and I really do admire him,” he conveys, pointing out that Bono has the means and money to do absolutely nothing- he could retire now and live his life twice over just with his current net worth (Inside Philanthropy). Bono has the choice to just lounge about all day and never make one single contribution to society, but he doesn’t do that, approaching everything with compassion and empathy. No one, no one at all, can say that they hate a man who saved and helped millions because of the big ego he might hold. Bono should not be hated for such perceptions as being too cocky when he has been such a positive influence on so many in this world.

  Bono commits himself and his time to helping people with an admirable, seemingly indomitable determination, which clearly demonstrates that he does everything for the benefit of others. Bono cares, genuinely cares, about improving lives, and knowingly puts his own heart out on the line so he can do that. He will sleep restless nights, tolerate unfair hate, and risk losing everything he gained so that the world will be a better place. He will not stop helping people because he is tired, he will not back down at the sight of a clap back, and he will not refrain from spreading his arms and shouting his beliefs, even if it means losing fans or gaining haters. Most people thrown into the spotlight that Bono has will immediately jump back in an effort to preserve themselves, but Bono does not. He loves the world and the people in it too much, demonstrating a selflessness that is hard to find in people these days– what he does is done in the name of love. To hate him because of a small flaw is unfair and unjust. 

For someone to say that they dislike him just because he’s a little self-righteous is completely unfair— they are forgetting that Bono is a human being, and a human being that has heard his name shouted amongst crowds of people, a human person that has literally saved lives. It’s understandable how he could grow a bit arrogant and his ego could be a bit inflated, even if it isn’t right. 

To me, this is more than about defending my favorite lead singer. This is more than about U2, a band that genuinely means more to me than I can properly convey. This issue speaks to the impossible standards we place on people, the unattainable perfection we expect from them. To hate a person who has done so much good for one flaw is baffling to me and an indication that we as a society need to be better.