Quote of the day--up close and impersonated edition

>> Friday, March 23, 2012

[Andrew Breitbart protégé Jason] Mattera: By dodging taxes on royalties are you raiding the poverty programs you purport to champion?

Bono [impersonator Pavel "Bonodouble" Sfera]: No.

Mattera: No? Don’t you want governments to be generous with other people’s money and not yours?

Bono: I don't have control over that…

Mattera: How do you not have control over that? It's your company. Are you not in charge of your own company?

Bono: It's not my company.

Mattera: You have no say in what U2 does?

Bono: Not particularly.

Mattera: You don't? You don't have a say in what U2 does?

Bono: No.
-as quoted by Erik Wemple,
"Jason Mattera interviews someone — is it Bono?",
Washington Post, March 21st, 2012


Oh gods. This is good. This is such good stuff. If you hadn't heard, an Andrew Breitbart protégé posted video and played back audio on Sean Hannity's radio show of a "gotcha" interview about U2's tax status, only to pull it when it turned out he was talking to a Bono impersonator. It's worth reading the entire piece at WaPo and all of Chez Pazienza's post in the link at the link in the previous sentence; evidently the fact that "Bono" couldn't get into a party being held for Jimmy Iovine, the head of U2's record label, wasn't a sufficient red flag, nor did Mattera seem to think it the least bit odd the guy he cornered didn't have an Irish accent.

The members of U2 have been criticized for sheltering taxes on their royalties in the past. I'm not a hundred percent sure if pressing for liberal causes while prudently running your business as allowed by law is necessarily hypocrisy; I don't know that it's how I would do things, true (though I'm not saying I wouldn't), but it's the kind of criticism that implicitly relies on the myth that believing government exists to help and protect the little guy requires you to live in a tarpaper shack making your own shoes out of treebark, while having any kind of success requires you to take sides with the plutocrats and Jag-driving libertarians (switching sides if you ever find yourself on the wrong one). I dunno: I've never considered "champagne socialist" (or it's less-colorful, less-clever American equivalent, "limousine liberal") to be a particularly diminishing or devastating epithet; whatever power it's supposed to have as a curse is falsely premised in the notion that liberals (and socialists) believe in taxation for taxation's sake, as opposed to merely believing in adequately funding government to exercise a wide range of service and regulatory roles. I'm really more than happy for taxes to be as low as they can be without compromising what I consider proper functions of government and don't see much point in government collecting more than it really needs for daily functioning with a little padding for emergencies and that's it.

I also don't see why you can't worry about your fellow man and still want a little something nice for yourself.

But I'm not really up for defending U2; members of the band have been involved in some real dick moves as far as I'm concerned, and I have to admit it doesn't help that their music has mostly bored me since Pop (which, I'll admit, is a record I kinda liked and certainly didn't hate as much as everyone else seemed to). Maybe they are hypocrites and assholes: Jason Mattera is still a fucking moron for (a) not realizing he was interviewing a Bono impersonator while he was doing it and (b) not figuring it out after he was done with the interview and had a chance to check himself before he went live with it.

And possibly (c), maybe Mattera should have tried the Mike Daisey defense: "Well, the bigger story is still true even if I am totally full of shit." Okay, maybe not--it doesn't seem to be working out all that well for Daisey, but at least Daisey's chutzpah after getting busted for inventing much of his story about working conditions at Foxconn has had a few people admiring the size of his balls, a few of them even going so far as to say that while they're not necessarily condoning going on stage and making a bunch of crap up, Daisey's claim that he's a "monologuist" with artistic license who is conveying bigger, capital-T Truths as opposed to your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, self-aggrandizing bullshit artist has enough merit to be worth discussing in an open-minded yet still vaguely-disapproving sort of way. Isn't the fact that U2's use of tax shelters is somehow arguably inconsistent with their bleeding-heart-ness what this is really all about at the end of the day, and Jason Mattera's basic indifference to truth and accuracy when making this vital point just a sideshow?

I'm willing to discuss this very point with Mattera, by phone, using the best Irish accent I can do; I like to flatter myself that I used to do a not-terrible, sort-of-recognizable impression of Bono's "Silver And Gold" monologue. Mattera, if you happen to read this and you're interested: give me a couple of days to rehearse, work on the accent, etc., and maybe prepare a lot of questions that I can respond to with, "Am I buggin' ya? I didn't mean to buggya." and comments about things done in a hotel room in New York City (e.g. "This 1040EZ was filled out in a hotel room in New York City, roundabout the time a friend of ours, Little Steven..."). My Bono isn't as good as Alec Baldwin's, but I'll give you my best shot (seriously, if you ever saw that old SNL episode, Baldwin does a Bono that's shit-your-pants hysterical). I'd offer to do it on video, but I'm taller and fatter than His Prescriptiongogglesness, so unless you shoot it Rattle And Hum style in black-and-white with me completely backlit by a stage spot... well, I still don't think it'll work, but I'm game. Do you have a cowboy hat I can borrow?

I mean, what do you care, anyway, whether I'm Bono or just say I'm Bono? It's the story, right? You'll show 'em, Mattera. You'll show 'em all.





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