alright kids, time for some real talk.
i’m gonna need all these people to stop talking shit about U2’s new record like it’s single most awful thing in the history of the world.
(and yes, i grew up on U2 and continue to love them, but that is by no means the cause of my distaste.)
there are people who say ‘it’s kind of creepy and invasive.’ i personally wouldn’t go as far to call it that, but the idea of a technological corporation holding the kind of power to send you something you didn’t ask for is very strange and Orwell-like for a lot of people, and i very much understand that. a better move to pacify this would have been to send apple users a notice that said “hey, want U2’s new record? go the iTunes store, click this button, and it’s yours” rather than automatically downloading it to everyone. a flaw in the plan like that is regrettable, not reprehensible.
but besides those concerns that verge entirely on sensible, a great number of the complaints and pissed-off posts i’m seeing seem to be along the lines of “ugh, i can’t believe they think i’d WANT their new record, ugh, it’s U2, they suck, as if”
my objection to that reaction has two parts.
first, this interpretation of their gesture. a band that has won 22 grammy awards and is swimming in money decided to (in essence) give a present to millions of people. no one is making you keep the record or even listen to it; you can delete it if you want to, for christ’s sake. they just said, 'hey, here’s our new record for nothing, you might like it.’ my analogy is you moving into a new apartment and going to put the garbage out to find one of your new neighbours has made you a lemon cake and left it on your doorstep with a note that says “welcome!” and has a smiley face drawn on it. sure, you might think “huh, i’ve never talked to this person, alright”, but is ANYONE in their right mind going to walk back in to their roommate and say “UGH, can you believe someone just gave us this cake? they didn’t even ask! i don’t like lemon cake anyway, it’s stupid! what an asshole!” people don’t seem to spot that their objections to Songs of Innocence sound about the same. someone did something nice for you and you’re sitting here somehow twisting that gesture into something awful because it didn’t suit you perfectly.
now, in continuing that analogy, i will ask: “what’s wrong with lemon cake?”
i reserve everyone’s right to dislike what music they dislike; but sometimes we all see see dislike turn to vitriol, beyond anything that could possibly be about the music. in that sense, i understand there are people around who dislike U2 because “eh, never really got into joshua tree.” but what i’m seeing now has to do with reputation and ideology and the kind of majority-following you usually see in schoolyards. it’s not musical distaste, it’s active hatred. if it was for something important to the world; like perhaps bono as a figure of philanthropy in africa and how it relates to his white privilege; then it would be alright, but it seemingly never is.
at first i thought it was merely their status as an old band, something for 'parents’ to like and such, but then i realised: the rolling stones and the surviving led zeppelin members have been around for even longer, and yet they don’t command anywhere this kind of hatred. why? because keith richards is a heroin-cracked pile of sarcasm, mick jagger still tells stories of how many groupies fucked him, jimmy page does nothing besides remaster old records and accept led zeppelin awards (no time to go to africa between all that), and robert plant never wrote a song about mandela or martin luther king. they’re all rock stars, constantly sneering at everything including themselves, talented beyond belief but only using it in certain ways. they’re not four kids from north dublin who still can’t believe how much good has happened to them and want good for as many other people as possible.
i feel like the U2 hate comes from this ludicrous and frankly disgusting thing our generation/the Internet does of just being steeped in so much irony and disconnection that anything that seems genuine/passionate is just decried. every goes around all the time acting like they don’t give a shit about anything even though they do; treating everything like a joke and being proud of their ability to never care or be offended, for example. look at the way passionate fans of anything tend to be treated, as though there is nothing worse than loving something and being open about it. U2 write about war and peace and love and pride and hate, and they’ve been working on getting better at their instruments and playing together for about thirty years, and trying all kinds of different things in the process. and of course we all know about bono and his philanthropy, as well as the other three. people see this and go “OH MY GOD, this band actually gives a shit about each other and their music and do it because they love it and sing about real things and real emotions; they call a day beautiful or say streets have no name! AND they do charity work because they actually care about the real world too! they don’t just hang around like every other old rock star with this reputation of coolness being the most important thing on planet earth! UGH HOW LAME AND DUMB AND STUPID CAN YOU POSSIBLY BE??”
possibly the best example of all this is a tweet i saw yesterday, in all caps lock, asking among other abuses if “U2 even has a marketing team”. that was posted by tyler the creator. a rapper whose lyrics include this: “rape a pregnant bitch and call it a threesome.” the person who wrote that is calling out U2 for a move he doesn’t view as being intelligent or subtle, apparently. after cleaning up the vomit that tyler's hypocrisy got out of me; i started thinking about all this.
rapper so disgustingly part of this don’t-give-a-shit generation that he literally takes pride in being needlessly, puerilely and uncreatively offensive is insulting a legendary band for giving millions of people a gift because their agenda of actually-caring-about-what-they-do apparently doesn’t suit him.
yeah, i don’t want to live in a world where this is accepted.
and lastly, time for a reality check that i just posted to Facebook:
Hey, want to hear why seeing people in their thousands call U2’s album release creepy/invasive/generally bad in some way makes me want to punch something? Because so many of those same people (by no means all of them, but many) had nothing of that sort to say about the iCloud hack that subjected the private business of multiple famous women to an act that can be described as 'digital sexual assault’. But no, a 22-Grammy-winning band drowning in money already basically wanting to give millions of people a present for nothing is waaaayyyyyyyy more an abuse of technology and waaaaaaayyyy more worthy of complaint.
Put your fucking brains back in, people.
if nothing else, think about that.
i just bought a Rattle and Hum t-shirt. deal with it.