Bono is in
the news. (When is he not?) This time, the worlds great
rocker is being named to edit a special edition of the VANITY
FAIR, the gliteratti magazine that influences our national buzz
machine and cultural zeitgeist. One of his stated missions is
to offer compelling non-stereotyped stories about the fight against
AIDS and for debt relief in Africa that compassion fatigued Americans
will tune in to.
As he reaches
out to touch an American nerve, I am reaching out to touch his.
I am doing so in the spirit of Nelson Mandela, with whom I did
five films, and who once surprised me at a press event by staring
right at me and asking - with a big smile - "Remember Me?"
I know Bono remembers me. In fact we were both at Mandelas
big anti-AIDS concert in Cape Town some years back. I was filming
it; he was starring in it. We had a long talk.
encounter took place many years earlier. It was also South Africa
related, but well before Mandela helped free South Africa. It
was at one of the last recording sessions for the anti-apartheid
record "Sun City" that I was helping to produce back
in 1985. We were in the basement of a now shuttered famous studio
in the Village, the one Jimi Hendrix once owned. Musician Little
Steven Van Zandt invited Bono there to sing on the project. Not
only did he agree, but he was inspired to contribute an original
and did a solo rendition of a song called "Silver And Gold"
which brilliantly put the apartheid crisis in an economic context,
making the connection between all the suffering in that country
and its great wealth and exploitation in its mines. He understood
then how important it was to challenge financial power. In fact,
it was the sanctions campaign, of which Sun City was a part, that
helped bring down that racist system.
Bono, please find some space
in your Vanity Fair issue to make it
about more than vanity with ads
for the affluent and photo spreads
of the rich and sexy.
Lets tie the issues together
for American readers and
African "victims" by recognizing
our common humanity and the
need to find common ground
in fighting shared problems.
on to become a high-profile champion of Africa, as an artist,
diplomat, lobbyist and negotiator. His eloquence, celebrity and
Irish "moxie" enabled him to confront the rich and powerful
from a mountain top in Davos to the General Assembly of the UN,
from an outhouse in the bush of an impoverished African country
to The White House and Congress, not to mention the stage of his
sold out concerts and on every TV network. He has pushed, persuaded,
cajoled, charmed and maneuvered the likes of Bill Gates. George
Bush, and even Jesse Helms, to support debt relief and the fight
against AIDS. He is a passionate campaigner. No one can say no
why I am writing to him/you now. If you want to get Americans
to show solidarity with Africa, show some solidarity with them.
Let's make the issue of Debt Relief in America part of the global
fight for economic independence in our interdependent world.
impoverished former colonies of the Third World have it worse,
with many sick and hungry people living in dire poverty, often
on US$2 a day. But suffering is relative and often causes the
same misery, disease and despair whereever you go. Ask the homeless
in America. Read about our own pervasive and growing poverty.
You know there is a festering and neglected third world in the
innards of every "rich" country.
Look at the
millions who are trapped in a debt they will never escape from,
almost like modern serfs. Read about all the outsourced jobs,
the closed auto plants, the wave of foreclosures as the housing
bubble bursting, the credit card crunch, the rise in bankruptcies,
the students leaving college with an average US$40,000 in loans,
and the billions in outrageous interest rates and all kinds of
fees. This does not just impact the poor but increasingly the
middle class and even those who felt it could never affect them.
lending is not just an African problem. It is global.
the name of love, Bono,
and our shared values and
common beliefs, will you help us
get the word out on this effort,
support us as we support you,
and make the issue and promise
of global economic justice a reality?
is predicting "More pain is on the way" as big banks
falter and the scandalous "Subprime" lending sector
- recently considered the "hottest" in the industry
- implodes. The bankers and economic wise men who have been denying
any problem are singing another tune now as the stock market melts
down and the underlying problems of consumer and government debt
are seen as the threat they are.
of personal security is becoming an issue of national security
and global insecurity. In many cases, the same banks, investment
houses and hedge funds are profiting off of the anguish of untold
millions in every country.
please find some space in your Vanity Fair issue to make it about
more than vanity with ads for the affluent and photo spreads of
the rich and sexy. Lets tie the issues together for American
readers and African "victims" by recognizing our common
humanity and the need to find common ground in fighting shared
growing debt burden of Americans - and the better-known debt problems
in Africa is a start.
We are working
on this issue now and need your help. We have created a campaign
called AMERICANS FOR DEBT RELIEF NOW (Stopthesqueeze.org)
and are promoting a film called IN DEBT WE TRUST (Indebtwetrust.com)
to raise pubic awareness. We are reaching out to give a massive,
but invisible, problem more visibility and a sense of urgency.
In the name
of love, Bono, and our shared values and common beliefs, will
you help us get the word out on this effort, support us as we
support you, and make the issue and promise of global economic
justice a reality?
Let me know
if you will help!
Danny Schechter edits MediaChannel.org. Comments to [email protected]
Bono's Bullshit, by Dave Marsh