Someone at the recent Glastonbury festival brought a balloon with them which they inflated during the U2 performance. The text on the balloon criticised the band’s hypocrisy (particularly Bono, I presume) for using tax shelters to hide their considerable wealth. There is indeed an issue with fabulously wealthy people bemoaning the state of the poor whilst simultaneously denying them help in an indirect way. I don’t know how much U2 donate to charity or how many hours they work in soup kitchens but my issue in this instance is not with U2 but with the Glastonbury festival organisers.
The balloon was similar to many other standards flying in the crowd. Some standards promoted well known, profit driven commercial enterprises. Presumably this was acceptable to the organisers because they were allowed to remain. The balloon criticising U2 however, was removed by the authorities. Read that sentence again… The balloon criticising U2 however, was removed by the authorities.
The authorities in this case were the security ‘guards’ at the festival. The ‘protest’ balloon was making a valid comment on the facts surrounding the band on stage. It was not inflammatory, it was raising a debate. Wasn’t the original motivation for having festivals, the desire to have an alternative space where freedom of thought and expression could flourish? It appears the hypocrisy of U2 has infected the festival organisers in a contagion which has spread unnoticed by the morally alert and ethically switched on intelligentsia of festival goers — or am I imagining these people still exist?
Inevitably, the wheel turns full circle and the Glastonbury festival has become the very thing it originally professed to despise.