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I'm a longtime contributor to MTV, Billboard, Alternative Press and MovieWeb. I've worked as on-air reporter, host, writer and producer for MTV, MSNBC and E!. I have provided opinion and commentary to programs on VH1, IFC, G4, Fuse, Current and Oxygen. I have written for Huffington Post, Premiere, OC Weekly, SFGate.com, NextMovie.com, MTV's television and movie blogs and other publications. I am the founder of Superhero Productions, providing broadcast, online and aftermarket content for a number of clients including Lionsgate, Sony and Warner Bros. I personally handle artist management for a handful of bands. "Ryan Downey has established a history of breaking some good scoops in the last few years, and you could certainly do worse than bookmark [him] to check in on." -- Ain't It Cool

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bono & Africa

A close friend forwarded me an article entitled "Africans To Bono: For God's Sake, Please Stop!"

Interesting, but not truthful.

In its opening salvo, it accuses the recent Africa-centered Vanity Fair issue guest edited by Bono of having "a conspicuous absence of Africans." That, right off the bat, is completely not true. I have that issue, and read most of it.

While Vanity Fair and Bono did (in my opinion wisely) chose to use a army of celebrities on multiple newsstand covers to get attention on Africa (as Brad Pitt says, the spotlight follows him, why not shine it somewhere that needs it?), I read about SO MANY Africans inside the magazine's pages, who they are, what they are doing, and read in their own words. Africans are all over that issue, on nearly every page, from entrepreneurs to artists, doctors, priests, you name it.

I recall in particular reading about a Catholic priest who is HIV positive who announced it publicly twenty minutes after being tested despite the risk of being stoned to death by his followers. An AFRICAN, in his own words.

Also of note: Vanity Fair is quite "liberal" in tone, however, Bono insisted they include George W. on the cover, and Condi Rice, as one positive thing his administration actually HAS done is more for Africa than any President.

The article's next (and central point) addresses the idea that there is "too much aid" going to Africa, that it's poorly distributed, misses the point, the government steals it, whathaveyou. This is all TRUE but what they neglect to mention, and is ALSO TRUE, is that Bono's DATA organization IS NOT LIKE LIVE AID.

Education, AIDS prevention, schools, debt relief, that's the type of work they do, they don't throw money at the problem as the intellectual and philanthropical elite did well-intentioned but erroneously in the 1980s.

The article also goes on to point out that Africa is a complex continent, more than a place of tragedy that needs saving, but also a place of diversity and a wealth of opportunity. THIS IS THE EXACT THEME OF THE VANITY FAIR AFRICA ISSUE! That's what the entire magazine is about! Whoever wrote this didn't read it.

It reminds me of all the "reports" about Live Earth pointing out that Madonna flies on private planes and that people would be using a lot of beverage containers at the concert. It's fault-finding designed to undermine and undo great undertakings that have 1,000x more impact than arm-chair grenade throwing at activists who undoubtedly are improving our world.

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