Re: MJ and U2

John J. Hlavaty ([email protected])
Mon, 6 Jul 1998 10:21:58 -0400

Des, the all knowing, ([email protected]) wrote:

>First off for folks reading this, this is not the start of a huge flame war
>with John. I have corresponded with John many times in the past and respect
>and value his opinion. I just happen to disagree with him on this one point


Besides, you're still wrong! ;oD

>Look at the magazines you just mentioned (Rolling Stone, GQ and i'll throw in
>Time). The 3 most popular mags in a black person's home (let's exclude the
>upper class blacks), are Essence, Ebony, Jet, and Vibe (sidenote: Vibe had an
>excellent review of POP, thanks to Gibi for pointing me to that one.) U2 is
>not going to get much coverage there. Do you see these magazines in the homes
>of white folks who buy magazines? No. The reason you know about Puff Daddy,
>Notorious BIG is because of MTV.

Point accepted. But keep in mind just who we are really
talking about here. If I chose some random black
person on the street and asked them about U2, it wouldn't
suprise me if they had no clue who U2 are. But this is
Michael Jordan we are discussing. This is a person that
should be immersed in all aspects of society. Surely most

Your argument that most black people don't have "white
magazines" in their home is correct, but at the same time,
isn't this part of the problem? Do black people think they are
"similar" to Jordan? His wealth, fame, talent sets him apart from
99.9% of the population, regardless of race - yet he is
known worldwide. How come? I would say that in today's
world, a white person is far more exposed to the "black
culture" than the reverse. This may be due to backlash
for past injustices, but at the same time the process
is secluding one race from another.

Keep in mind that I'm just talking about simple
exposure, not in depth analysis. For example, I'm not a fan of
"black gang" movies or most rap music. Spike Lee "lost his charm"
on me years ago. But I can say these things because I
have at least been exposed to SOME movies and music in
thess genres. I know who Spike Lee is. I would recognize
Puff Daddy. I've been a fan of MJ since he first joined
the Bulls (and as proof of that statement, I have the Chicago
Sun-Times newspaper from 1984 which has an article discussing
Jordan joining the Bulls after his winning the Gold in
the Olympics). In other words, while I may not be a fan
of all facets of another culture, I try to expose myself to
it. And this is how I avoid the following:

>You say that most of your friends are scientists and you read a lot of
>scientific-related material. The reason is, individuals tend to interact with
>others that hold the same world view as them, who look like them.

My point here is that it is all too easy for me to do JUST
this: to become secluded and in some ways I have. To counteract it, I
force myself to examine other aspects of society.

I went to Notre Dame (ND) for my graduate studies in biochemistry.
Most people think of ND as a highly secluded, "white", catholic
school and for the most part, this is true. But what impressed
me about ND's chem/biochem department was its diversity!
There were people from around the world studying at ND.
I had the honor or meeting and befriending people from
India, Chile, Ethiopia, Canada, Argentinia, Ireland, Germany,
Australia, Sweden, Malaysia, Poland and Romania, just to
mention a few. Early on, one of my better friends at ND was
not only female, but a black female from the U.S.! (We lost
contact after she graduated, married and moved.) So even
though I was with fellow scientists, reading science articles and
performing scientific research, I was still being exposed to
other languages and cultures. In other words, one can
find diversity if one chooses. If people prefer to ONLY read
"Vibe" or "TIME" and interact with members of their own
race, that's their choosing. But I do not blame society for this
for in today's world there is a chance to be exposed to everything.

>Despite their
>huge sales, Puffy and BIG are consistently dissed by white musicians (Rolling
>Stones) and white music fans. So, because these 2 are respected in the black
>community, it's obvious they aren't respected in the white community.

Wait a minute, aren't these the same Rolling Stones that also
insulted U2 complaining that U2's tour was "nothing special"
but then stole ideas directly from it to use in their own tour?
Didn't George Harrison, another white person, "lump" U2 with various
other artists saying they would be forgetten in 10 years? It appears that
some of these "white musicians" are so egotistical that they
insult EVERYONE, not just black artists.

>he reason you
>know about Cassandra Wilson is because of her U2 cover. Why do you need U2
>dedicating a song or singing a song about a African-American to expose you to
>another culture's music?

I admit, *I* learned of Wilson this way, but I know of a Jazz
fan (white person) who knew of Wilson LONG before her
cover of a U2 song. While I enjoy jazz, I am not enough
of a fan to invest the time or $$ to learn about jazz artists.
Hearing of Wilson's cover allowed me to invest a little
into this musical genre.

But why is it so bad that U2 exposed me to Wilson? Why
is it so bad that U2 were the reason I decided to look at
Billy Holiday's career a bit more closely?

I openly admitted that I "used" U2 to help expose me to
other music and artists and I dont' feel that this is wrong.
If Puff Daddy's pseudo-remake of the Police's "Every Breath
You Take" exposed a few younger, black people to the Police,
great! We all have to learn from some place/person. I think the far worse
travesty would be to discover the presence of another artist and then
blatanly ignore them.

>I mean let's bring in another culture here. How
>many knew about Selena before she was brutally murdered? But yet she was huge
>in the Tejano music industry.

I don't understand this point. Selena was popular in that area
because that is where she was. Similarly, U2 are
rock musicians, so jazz, rap or country fans might not know
much about them. However, the difference is that U2
have been around for a LONG time, whereas Selena was still
up and coming and just about ready to make the crossover
into the U.S. mainstream when she was murdered. Therefore,
it's only logical that more people would know of U2 than
of Selena. Go back to 1983. People in Ireland and the U.K.
had heard of U2 for years, but how many of us had heard of
them in the U.S.? One could argue that U2 were HUGE in the
punk/rock world in the U.K. music industry back then, so
how "close-minded" of us Americans not to have heard of them.
In order to gain popularity here, U2 continued their heavy
touring. Selena was just about to do the same before she was

Again, keep in mind my original point. I stated that I was surprised
that MJ didn't know who U2 were in 1992 - not 1982.
By 1992 U2 were SUPER exposed. Maybe they did not
inundate the black community market, but I find it hard
to believe that any person who paid *any* attention to the
media would not know who U2 were in 1992.

>Therefore, MTV wasn't
>viewed by blacks, why look at a show where you are never shown. Most blacks
>are going to watch BET where they will see Puffy but others that never make
>the cross over. Now, look at MTV's music video programming.

Maybe you can explain the following to me Des, being both black
and female:

Currently there is this huge trend to abolish the "old regime",
meaning anything associated with "white male". Schools that
were all male are now forced to be co-ed. MTV, which catered
to white audiences initially, now shows a diverse array of
videos appealing to many markets.

But there is a contradiction here. Several times in the
RECENT news I've seen women protesting the notion
of their school becoming co-ed. Why is it acceptable
to force a male school to become co-ed, but not the
reverse? BET only shows black videos (as
far as I know). Why? Why is this acceptable, but MTV
had to be more diverse? BET is just as guilty as catering to an
audience as MTV was early on, but somehow, this is "O.K."

People complain about the PAST injustices of the white
male, but the "new regimes" are being just as discriminatory
and biased as the old. It seems that some facets of society,
like the dreaded "white male", are making a better effort
to at least expose themselves to other cultures, whereas
other parts of society are becoming more exclusive than ever!

>You talk about not allowing yourself to fall far from mainstream society as to
>not know who is at least "popular" in the world. But which world? You know
>of these black artists because they have crossed over. Well U2 didn't do a
>reverse cross over, and they don't have the name recognition among blacks such
>as Elvis, Rolling Stones, and the Beatles. There are black artists that i'm
>sure most whites haven't heard of: Phyllis Hyman, Minne Riperton, Jeffrey
>Osborne, etc. So, should we make a statement that you have been living in a
>cave because you're never heard of these individuals. Sure, you can say well
>they never made it big because they didn't cross over, well again U2 hasn't
>crossed over in the black community.

Point taken, but are any of those artists you mentioned even
on the same playing field as U2? Have any of them sold
75 million albums? Have any of them had an album debut
at #1 in 29 countries? Have any of them conducted not one,
but numerous world tours? Have any of them been plastered
all over the better selling magazines (when I look through
the magazine racks, I at least see the cover of VIBE and look
at it even if I don't buy it - the same should be true of those
looking at TIME or Rolling Stone) since 1984? Have
any of those artists sold 120,000 concert tickets in just
one city? Lastly, how many of those artists have been around
as long as U2?

The Beatles did not "cross-over" either, but I'm sure
most black people have heard of them. So once again
I return to my original issue - for MJ not to have
heard of U2 in 1992 is amazing. For a person of his
stature and wealth to not have at least *heard* of a band
as famous as U2 (since 1987, most people considered
U2 as "the Beatles of the present generation") indicates
that his world is too isolated. I'm not saying that MJ
should have been gyrating his hips singing "Oh yeah, mysterious
ways, baby" upon meeting U2. I'm just saying that
he should have known of them. Bono's look, circa 1992,
is probably the most recognizable so it's hard to believe
that MJ was that clueless.

Obviously Des, you took my words as an "attack" of
some sort agains the entire black community. But
I repeat, does the black community REALLY identify
with MJ that much? I know I cannot identify with
Larry Bird, Greg Maddux, Albert Einstein or Bill Gates!
So why did you feel my comments about MJ were
representative of a whole race? As I wrote above,
I would not expect most black people to know of U2,
but I *would* expect MJ to know of them.

>well, john i guess we'll agree to disagree on this one :-)
Not if you admit you were wrong! LOL! Just teasing, Des! ;-D



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