That’s Irish Humour for you, way to Go Bono
Singers suggestion that Amy Schumer and Chris Rock should be employed to counter Islamic State reveals showbiz has consumed his entire way of thinking
On Tuesday during a meeting with a Senate subcommittee on Capitol Hill,
Bono suggested that comedians should be sent to counter Islamic State. Stressing he was serious numerous times, the U2 frontman explained: Dont laugh. I think comedy should be deployed. Its like, you speak violence, you speak their language. But you laugh at them, when theyre goose-stepping down the street, and it takes away their power. So, Im suggesting that the Senate send in Amy Schumer and Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen, thank you.
The response to Bonos comments has ranged the gamut from Is he serious? to Is he freaking serious? Yet the singer was adamant that sending in famous comics would be a solid alternative to airstrikes.
Of course this wouldnt be the craziest idea that has emanated from U2 (see:
their iTunes album snafu
), but it begs to be discussed. After all, Bono has often used his massive success to promote the causes hes cared about.
Yet this statement seems, if he is indeed serious, remarkably naive. The goons in Isis are so far removed from reality, how could they possibly even understand the concepts of humor and joy in general?
(A question Joyce Carol Oates recently posed, to much mockery.)
Bonos modest proposal only demonstrates how showbusiness has consumed his entire way of thinking. A case in point is the fact that he cited some of the hottest comedians of today, as if Isis cares about whos in right now. I dont want to go out on a limb, but I highly doubt they peruse the Hollywood Reporter to see the latest box office returns. (Isis fighter: Oh, Chris Rock! He was hilarious on the Oscars. Yeah, lets see what he has to say.)
Bonos idea wasnt an offhand comment he made while getting drinks with a buddy. Its like when youre tipsy at a bar and start setting the world to rights. At a certain point youre so drunk that simple logic doesnt really play into it, but it sure makes you feel good to get your grand pronouncements out there. Yet
Bono actually flew to Washington DC and was speaking to the very people that make these kind of decisions, expecting to be taken seriously. It adds a whole new level of not only weirdness, but total arrogance.
Aside from all of that, wouldnt it be nice to live in a world where one of Schumers relatable sex jokes would actually disarm these guys and make them think: Hey, were actually all the same. We never realized this. Call off the torturing! Lets pretend for a moment that Isis does indeed love comedy. Maybe a member of Isis was actually a scorned standup who was heckled and finally said: You know what, comedys not my thing. Im going to try to bring down western civilization instead. Unfortunately for all of us, thats probably not the case.
Bonos thoughts also illustrate the way comedy is often regarded particularly among privileged liberals as a kind of magic pill with which you can disarm people with extreme ideas. Yet
as Trevor Noah recently pointed out in the Guardian, in response to criticism of his stewardship of the Daily Show, laughs are a poor substitute for action. In South Africa the youth rose up, the people rose up, he adds. You didnt tweet about the thing, you didnt watch TV shows about the thing, you made something happen yourself. Satire was seen as an additional tool or a weapon in that arsenal.
In response to Bonos idea, New Hampshire senator Jeanne Shaheen responded in the most diplomatic way possible, noting that it was not the first time Ive heard experts on how do we counter violent extremism talk about that, later adding: Its one of the things were looking at. Either Shaheen was smitten by the fact that the guy who sings Beautiful Day was standing before her in full pompadour, or the US government was actually toying with the idea of staging a few standup shows amid the bloodshed as opposed to, I dont know, figuring out how to rescue kidnapped women and children.
Of course Schumer herself summed up Bonos comments best, delivering a classic two-word response via Twitter: Holy shit.