Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bono's Hotness Window

In lieu of watching this year's (reportedly unwatchable) Video Music Awards, Roommate Mark and I settled in for a vintage copy of the 1993 VMAs that I acquired Through Methods. Partly because we're into time-capsule stuff like that -- especially during the '90s, the VMAs were like a yearbook of whatever had been going on in popular music at the time. '93 was especially interesting because it featured the visibly uneasy co-existence of the Grunge People and the Gangsta Rap people, and watching that kind of heterogeneous mixing and mingling was instructive.

Anyway, one of the performances was U2's The Edge doing that song "Numb." Remember, the one where he just mumbles in a monotone about how very much he's against media manipulation, because if there's one thing U2 will not stand for, it's any kind of media manipulation? Our reaction was basically "This is stupid," because it was. But I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that there used to be something about this song that I liked. Then I looked up the video on YouTube and I remembered.

Bono nestling his face up in The Edge's neck, singing falsetto in his ear -- it's not surprising that this made an impression on impressionable me when I was in junior high. If you'd ask me now if I think of Bono as hot, I'd say no. Too mullet-y in the '80s. Too Patron Saint of Liberal Guilt now. But that little moment up there comes from that short window in the early '90s -- post-Joshua Tree, pre-Pop -- when it was alllllll working for Bono. That's the tenuous theory I was working with when I came across the music video for "One."

Hello, Bono's intriguing chin scar. What's up, maddeningly-alluring, cigarette-smoking Irish romantic poet in a warmly-lit pub, flanked by sin and a Heineken bottle? I'd like to stare at your face for a long while.

Anyway: theory now proved. And kudos to director Anton Corbjin. Sure, he got raves for movies like Control and The American, but for my money, his finest professional accomplishment was this here video. It just all looks so handsome, and not just Bono. ...Okay, mostly Bono. Did we ever truly appreciate that narrow window of Perfectly Sexy Bono, Singing About Stuff That's Not Genocide?


JAM said...

Whenever you and Mark do these flashbacks to these early-90s things, it always amazes me how instantly I'm taken back to a very specific time and place. Granted, it's a place somewhere in white, middle-class, Southern suburbia, so it's not incredibly exciting, but I never knew I would feel so nostalgic for that particular time and place. It all seemed like such a stultifyingly boring time in my life, and I suppose a lot of teenagers feel that way. I recognize that this is not an original sentiment, but I guess that was the time when I was not really a kid, but not really an adult, and even though I was growing and becoming more aware of issues and problems in the world, nothing really bad had happened to me and I didn't have any idea how arbitrary and scary the world could be and as smart as I was, I guess I was still pretty naive. And now, looking back, that time seems so safe and comforting and innocent and whatnot.

Anyway, that's the space I immediately go to every time you guys post early-to-mid-90s pop videos.

~jessica said...

I was a senior in high school in 1993, in love for the first time with a guy in the Air Force who had just been stationed in England before being stuck at Griffith in central NY. He wore Doc Martens and had a European (read: uncensored front graphics) copy of Achtung Baby that I thought was very man-of-the-world, and "One" became the only U2 song I ever truly loved.

DuchessKitty said...

Bono has always looked too much like this guy Philip that I grew up with to ever be considered hot in my eyes. But I liked your analysis of his "window".

By the way, I enjoyed the heck out of the 2011 VMAs (at least the performances).

Anonymous said...

I think you're right about the window thing. Because as I recall seeing interviews and videos of the earliest Bono, in the Boy to War years, even including the Unforgettable Fire, he was not...this good looking, that's for sure. I mean, compare the Bono in Two Hearts Beat As One with the Bono in One. No comparison!

And then his hotness was all over. Is there a lesson in there somewhere?

Anonymous said...

And then there are those of us for whom that window never closed...

Anonymous said...

Just so you know the vid of Bono in the bar wasn't directed by Anton Corbijn, but rather by Phil Joanou.