Jon Bon Jovi sparked controversy over his remarks about Orangemen supposedly stalking Bono’s childhood – but is he really to blame?
Oh, Jon Bon Jovi.
We could forgive you for having a perm with a fringe in the 1980s. We could forgive wearing gold-lamé trousers so tight they looked like they’d been spray-painted on as some exotic form of torture. We could even forgive writing loads of songs about cowboys despite growing up in industrial New Jersey.
But we can’t forgive these comments to the Armchair Expert podcast: “(Bono’s) upbringing was very different than mine. I never had the Orangemen walking through my neighbourhood saying, get the Catholic kid and beat him up.”
Eh, neither did Bono. Having to dodge hordes of antagonistic sash-wearers as he sauntered through Finglas wasn’t a large, or indeed any, part of Bono’s youth. And he’s part-Protestant anyway.
Shot through the heart, Jon… and you’re to blame.
But you’re not the only one with egregious misconceptions about the reality of life in Ireland. At least JBJ can be excused to some degree on the grounds that a) he’s a rock star, therefore clueless about everything, b) he runs a soup kitchen so is clearly a decent fella, and c) those gold-lamé trousers actually weren’t so bad, looking back now.
What about academic and author Naomi Wolf – she of the iconic Beauty Myth, a 1990 feminist work which became a bestseller – who tweeted in July last year, “It was amazing to go to Belfast, which does not yet have 5G, and feel the earth, sky, air, human experience, feel the way it did in the 1970s. Calm, still, peaceful, restful, natural.”
Ah yes – calm, still, peaceful and restful. The first things that come to mind when you think of Belfast in the 1970s: a city at the height of Western Europe’s worst conflict, a decade in which over 2,000 people – two-thirds of the Troubles’ total – died.
One local establishment was dubbed “the most bombed hotel in Europe”. Feel the earth, sky and air…because the ceiling has been blown off.
Though even Belfast at the height of the Troubles wasn’t as deadly as the mean streets of Crumlin – at least according to a much-derided ESPN article on Conor McGregor from 2017.
Apparently, Mr Notorious grew up in a tough “project” where straying into the wrong “turf” was “reason enough for an ass-whipping”. Kids only took up martial arts to defend themselves from lethal threat. Crumlin and Drimnagh were involved in some kind of Tupac-versus-Biggie-style gang war.
God, it sounds even worse than running the gauntlet of marauding Orangemen north of the river – like Bono had to do.
Fictional fallacies about Ireland have been, if possible, more putrid. There’s a long and inglorious history of cinema and television portraying this place as a misty, melancholy land strewn with peasants, priests, fiery women who swear a lot, sexy and noble terrorists, pigs in the parlour and possibly other unsuitable areas of the house, and drunken poets writing songs about infanticide before fighting over the last drop of whiskey, bejaysus.
Sex and the City, EastEnders, Far and Away, Fawlty Towers, PS I Love You, A Prayer for the Dying… hang your heads in shame. Even the mighty Jessica Fletcher slipped up with an ill-judged “Oirish” episode.
Then there was the time, in 2017, when Saoirse Ronan came perilously close to losing her citizenship and/or head by appearing in a stupid bit of Paddywhackery on Saturday Night Live, a surreally unfunny American “comedy” show you’ve never heard of and don’t want to watch.
Meanwhile Sigmund Freud played to stereotypes of Irish people as feckless, dreamy and illogical by describing us as “a race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever”. Heaven knows what he’d make of the phallocentric Spire on O’Connell Street.