Saturday, December 11, 2010

John Lennon vs. Bono: The death of the celebrity activist

by William Easterly

Washington Post

December 10, 2010

The recent release of the Beatles' music on iTunes, coupled with the anniversary of John Lennon's tragic death in New York City 30 years ago this past Wednesday, has brought on a wave of Beatles nostalgia. For so many of my generation, growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, Lennon was a hero, not just for his music but for his fearless activism against the Vietnam War.

Is there a celebrity activist today who matches Lennon's impact and appeal? The closest counterpart to Lennon now is U2's Bono, another transcendent musical talent championing another cause: the battle against global poverty. But there is a fundamental difference between Lennon's activism and Bono's, and it underscores the sad evolution of celebrity activism in recent years.

Lennon was a rebel. Bono is not.