Tag: U2

U2, “The Playboy Mansion”


The year was 1997. At the end of the 20th century, how did everything end up depressive but frenetic? The ’90s started with the greatest political shift since WW2–after the Berlin Wall fell, so did the USSR. What a Christmas gift! A new world was supposed to open up. A great world. No more fear, no more war.

U2, same as every artist, rushed to Berlin. They came back to report with Achtung Baby and Zooropa. The title says it all, Europe is now a zoo. We’re no longer real people; we’re the caged beasts of our past selves. We’re the pets of the people we fear we’ve become. But of course–that left America. Ten years after The Joshua Tree, which was Bono playing high priest in the temple of Americana, U2 went back to America, the great rock-Christian hope of the world. They reported with Pop, their most maligned album, but perhaps morally the most realistic. It’s criticism that is finally self-criticism; rock stars without any of the sanctimony or self-preening left. Our moral crisis belongs to all of us; that’s our last form of equality.

The Collapse of Rock, the Beautiful Nineties, and revolutionary ugliness


The obsession of our popular culture with beauty has come to a tragic form of heroism. Celebrities in hearfelt and simultaneously over-produced pop songs assure the children who are their ideal audience that they are beautiful people. This assurance against evidence is premised on the knowledge that everyone is the same and that the effective truth of uniqueness is anonymity.

In societies where people are segregated by age, the young are helpless to withstand the times and powerless to attract or reward whatever attention they might get. The lie they wish to hear above all is that they have so much beauty within themselves that they can be justified. Their experience is being ignored, not found worthy of attention. The more celebrities rise spontaneously among the people, the more the people act as though they themselves were worth no attention. The celebrities then reflect this self-loathing back onto the worshiping crowds.

Whoever is foolish enough to stand in the way or take exception will not be treated kindly. Freaks are intolerable; they remind us of ourselves too much. Celebrity worship, on the other hand, is the next best thing to success worship, if not the way we train kids for it… This is the generalized problem of the Gay Nineties, when popular music was dominated by blithe beauty. At the outskirts, seething anger and a new attitude of rejection of the ideology of community-within-pop-music was rising, although it was silenced by the tyranny of record sales.

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  Last week was pretty a pretty full week.  On a serious geopolitical level we saw further barbarity from the Middle East, the serious prospect of removal of the Cross of St. Andrew from the flag that once flew over 1/4 of the world’s land mass, and evidence of further decay in Obama’s DC.  In happier news Apple came […]

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