Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

U2 and Me. Neil McCormick in Interview.

“I think fame is the great obsession of our time. TV is such a powerful tool, beaming its message in to the heart of the family. Since the dawn of mass media young people have wanted to have their egos validated by being recognised by strangers, having their picture in the paper, appearing on TV. It is almost as if we are not real until that happens. It is empty and meaningless, but it is the obsession of our time. It is an embarrassment to me now, this craven behaviour of a young egotistic male seeking approval from strangers. The only thing I can say in my favour is that I had a focus on music: I was not prepared to do anything just to be famous. I did write some good songs, and that is the only part of it that has stood me in good stead“.

It is easy to imagine the young Neil queuing up for Pop Idol, although to his credit he probably never had the blandness needed to succeed there. The slagging match that would have ensued after he inevitably, and eloquently, insulted each and every one of the judges would definitely have made entertaining viewing.What is his take on reality TV, and the notion that you too can be famous if you are prepared to humiliate yourself?

“We are moving beyond the idea of having to do something worthwhile to be famous. I think it is sad for society when the icons, the Gods of our time are insubstantial rock and soap stars. I do understand the attraction of reality TV; seeing people reacting to difficult situations can give intriguing insight into human nature. The phenomenon also runs alongside a trend to not just venerate any more, but also mock and destroy. It is unpleasant, but also all part of an interesting devaluing of fame. Perhaps we are entering in to a new phase of our relationship with celebrity?”

While McCormick is pretty scathing about his own ambitions to become a legendary rock star, he writes with great affection about his friends who did achieve it, and Bono in particular. He clearly believes Bono deserves adulation and is an icon worthy of that status. The man McCormick describes combines a big heart with a sharp mind and political shrewdness, and is truly different from other celebrities. Bono, it seems, has really grasped the idea that fame can be a means to a much bigger end.

“Bono is a very impressive individual. He is a person who has been expanded by fame. I think that is very rare. For a lot of people it has the complete opposite effect and they are reduced, it robs them of humanity and humility, overfeeds their ego and undernourishes the soul and is a very destructive thing. But because Bono was so driven by positive instincts, he has grown with it, used it and been expanded by it. Fame has allowed him to use his endless, reckless energy; the love and benediction has nourished and filled this black hole of need, and fed his artistic and his political side. He does not have to worry about the mortgage. People often ask, is he still the same person as he was at school – of course not! He is one of the most connected people on the planet. He has met every world leader. He is relentless in his pursuit of Africa's case, of third world debts, and works extremely hard from early morning till late at night. Bono is a very big human being, a larger than life character, and I think some it comes from the nourishment of fame.”

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