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A few thoughts about this here:


i think there's a danger as you say kester, but we live after purity - i.e. the ideal isn't available. so we have to kick at the darkness wherever there's a space until it bleeds daylight. i think today's independent is a great kick. bono's editorial shows that he knows too well the dangers and the problems of cool. i think the cool and easy thing to do would have been to say no on his part.

here's my worry - your post is a cool, predictable response dare i say from an educated left of centre cynical/suspicious guardian reading late 30s person and i was tempted by the same response (only difference being i am early 40s!). but maybe our own coolness is equally part of the problem here? you may of course end up being right, but i think it's more hopeful... i'm glad bono is being decidedly uncool.


Ouch - anyone would think you knew me!

Lol, I agree with you in part - I haven't got to the editorial yet - but I still think there is a massive issue here. And perhaps it is one about coolness. Personally, I don't think I was in any way trying to make a 'cool' response. I really don't. I am genuinely worried, and a bit sickened by it all.

Yes - I think it's great the Indie did it, and it's great Bono is trying to do the right things. But I think the danger of the project is the same one that used to go around at churches I've been too: "oh, if only Robbie Williams (insert name) became a Christian it'd be amazing and there'd finally be some breakthrough/revival"

Relieving poverty is not about a brand. It's not about buying in to someone (much cooler/richer/more gorgeous) else's story. Yes - let's have these people flagging up the issues, but let's not pretend that Armani / Motorola / GAP are just flagging up the issue. They are getting us to buy into the issue.

'Spend more to give more' is actually a pernicious piece of logic that pervades all sorts of things these days from Supermarket schemes to the Lottery. What it's doing is destroying any culture of gift: giving with nothing in return.

Trying to make poverty relief 'cool' is very dangerous, as what is 'cool' is so relative, so volatile. 'Cool' is about buying into stories, wrapping stuff around ourselves to enhance our identities. Poverty is, by definition, uncool. You can't afford any stuff to wrap around yourself. So it bugs me that we are proposing to consume people out of poverty. It just appears to be a disconnect to me...


kester - sorry if i was a bit full on... i was meaning to implicitly critique myself as well. i guess it's the age old problem of when to engage with and when to resist culture. tough choices always. i hope it leads to some good things anyway. on the cool thing it's funny - i'm just trying to be brutal about our instincts. say it was thom yorke doing the editorial would you have raved about it?! would it make a difference? i'll get my coat...


No apology needed! I'm sure it will lead to good things... And you're right about having to face our instincts.

Perhaps that's the point: Thom Yorke doesn't do that Bono thing - whereas perhaps Chris Martin does. Yorke was offered a meeting with Brown & Blair to discuss environmental stuff, and the closer the meeting got the more their aides pressured him to limit his questions narrowly. So he pulled out.

Either way, I think we need to carefully pare apart poverty and coolness. Living / giving to relieve poverty is not about being cool. It's above and beyond image. And anyway, you simply can't TRY to be cool. It's something mysterious that disappears if you try to grab it. People who are cool are cool because they don't try to be cool. They just do their thing. Like have an allotment ;^)

Going to be a fun weekend!

Mike R

The missus saw David Grant on the Wright Stuff this morning talking about this issue.

Matthew Wright asked him what he thought, and David said: "I am SO SICK..." and evryone expected him to slag off Bono. But actually he was sick of the cynicism - and so am I.

Of course, if I had 50 quid, I wouldn't buy a RED T-Shirt. I'd give 45 quid to Africa and buy a 5 quid T-shirt from UNI-QLO

But not everyone thinks like us, and it's ridiculous to pretend otherwise. These products are not aimed at the likes of you and I. They're aimed at people who like to consume, but want to "do their bit", as well. You can't tackle people's addiction to consumerism in the West and poverty in African at the same time. But you can skim off their money and give it to where it needs to go.

And actually the financial consumers organisations will tell you that the AMEX card is a bloody good product by any standard.

I wonder how many of the cynics gave 70p to Africa instead of buying the Independent today. At least he's doing something.


I don't have to. Work buys it every day for us ;-)

OK - I see your point Mike. But it's a tad patronizing don't you think? These cheeky, cockney-sparrow-like characters who just want to do their bit? The nub is, people are going to have to buy less, and give away more. And unless that includes challenging everyone, not just giving people an easy pay-way out. You simply cannot consume your way out of poverty when the planet is already beyond pillaged.

Shame Bono didn't get to edit the Motoring section today. He might have realized the irony of matching a piece on climate change ("A nightmare scenario for the people of the world's poorest continent") with a glowing review of the latest Porsche.

Mike R

Well sure, but my point still stands. You can't challenge people about consumerism AND challenge them about poverty in Africa at the same time. That takes time.

Meanwhile someone dies every 3 seconds. People can't live on good intentions. The kind of money that could be generated by these products can solve some of these problems in a heartbeat.

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