How seriously can you treat a figure who is so often ridiculed, in such a range of venues, for so many reasons? Bono has been a source of controversy for some time. If he, as Browne believes, is so easily dismissible, to what is this book responding? Indeed, why does Bono warrant a “counterblast”?
A book about Bono per se is not all that relevant. Browne notes that Bono has lost some of his salience due to overexposure and overuse. But Browne’s exegesis is not so much about looking at Bono as it is lookingthrough him — an intervention against an entire type, at what Bono has helped create, forcing us to weigh his useful advocacy (especially around AIDS in Africa) against the symbolic succor he lends to the brutal statesmen and corporations his advocacy work — sometimes subtly, sometimes directly — advances. As Browne puts it: “The point of The Frontman is to focus not on what motivates Bono but on his rhetoric, his actions, and their consequences.” While it is often a takedown of Bono the man, at its best it is a criticism of how we rely on and enable men in his position.