Why are so many people annoyed by U2's social justice efforts?

Bono and Bush (Creative Commons Photo)
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This week’s guest is David Dark, author of the book Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious. He is the author of our recent article Why does U2 irk so many people? A look at their struggle for pop hits and social justice.”

In his piece, Mr. Dark describes how U2’s musical and lyrical choices relate to the band’s social justice efforts, celebrity status and commercial success. “After 9/11, I recall MTV was still doing music videos a little bit, and U2 was one of the few acts that could be put on rotation in the weeks following without it seeming really unseemly,” said Mr. Dark. “Their earnestness and their general embrace of human beings, their works of mourning as well as celebration seemed to celebrate the national mood.” But the band has its critics. “There have been South Park episodes taking on what’s perceived as Bono’s hypocrisy being a millionaire,” Mr. Dark told America. U2 became that band that people kind of roll their eyes at.”

What accounts for this “skepticism” and “contempt”? “Our conscience is worn down in many ways,” Mr. Dark said. “We have access to more information than we know what to do with. And here comes U2 preaching to a degree, telling us that our sisters and brothers are our sisters and brothers in spite of international boundaries and that sort of thing. And we’re not up for it a lot of the time, especially when we’re looking for a pop song. We don’t accept that from celebrities. Their easy to pick on for that reason.”

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