Covering U2 – Why All the Hate?

This week, I wanted to “cover” one particular aspect of the last week’s events – namely, the irrational reaction that some people have had to being given a free copy of the new U2 album. You’d think that nothing would surprise me at this point, but I have to confess that I was once again disappointed in humanity when I started noticing all the negativity surrounding U2’s and Apple’s latest partnership. It first started on Tuesday night – people were actually upset about having been given a free copy of Songs of Innocence. “Surely,” I said to myself “there must be something going on here that I don’t understand, something that I just don’t get. Maybe it’s just a joke!” as the week wore on, though, more and more examples started to fill the web – people being downright abusive and mean toward Apple, toward U2, and all because someone gave them a gift.

As I understand it, the crux of the complaints is that the album shows up under everyone’s purchased tab, whether you wanted the album or not. My wife tried to explain it to me by comparing it to another band. “If it had been a Maroon 5 album” she said, because I think that Adam Levine is one of the douchiest guys in the world “you would be upset too.”, and she might be right. I still don’t think that I’d go to the extremes that some of these people have, though. I wouldn’t send obscenity laden emails to Maroon 5 websites. I wouldn’t take the time to create a petition or a special graphic about how much I hate Adam Levine. I’d simply delete the album, say something snarky to my wife, and get on with my life. I know that some other fans find it funny (see yesterday’s Cup of Joe) and I guess that there’s some humor to be found in the situation, I just don’t get where all the hate comes from. Even after Apple corrected the “problem” by giving people a means to delete the album from their purchased tab, people are still upset.

I’m obviously not a saint. You know that if you’ve read any of my articles. I can be as nasty and unproductive as the next guy, as destructively critical as anyone, but I don’t think I’ve ever reacted to a gift with such vitriol. Why are people being so hateful about something given to them for free?!? My wife chimed in here too – “Some people just really hate U2” she said, and I guess that’s true. If so, the real question becomes “why?” why do people hate U2 and Bono so much? I mean, if it was Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, I’m sure that no one would be acting like they’d been personally attacked by terrorists, even though both of those artists are deservedly the butt of some pretty good jokes. I think that the difference is that Justin Bieber makes people feel good about themselves. Heck, he makes anyone look good by comparison. Bono and U2, on the other hand, have done more good for the world than anyone else that comes readily to mind, which makes a lot of people feel bad. People know that they should be doing more for their country or their community, and U2 serves as a reminder of just how much more we could be doing.

I think that U2’s extended success makes people mad, too. Most of us struggle to get through every week at our crappy jobs that we hate. Even most celebrities fall off after a few years – and that’s OK. We can stand someone living the good life as long as they eventually come back down to the mud with the rest of us. U2, though – they’ve been living on top of the world for 30 years now! Isn’t that way more than enough? These guys must think that they’re something special! Of course, you and I know that they are special, but no moreso than you and I. We’re all special, some people just don’t want to accept that.

I guess that I’ll never understand all this negativity. That’s probably OK, though. I’m perfectly happy and content to be enjoying my free U2 album on my iPhone, iPad, and everything else. In fact, I should probably take this opportunity to publicly step up and say “thanks” to both Apple and U2. It’s just the polite thing to do when someone gives you a gift.

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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