According to the New York Times, as well as documents obtained by Wikileaks, a slew of pop megastars have received massive paychecks from the dictatorial/psychotic Qaddafi family of Libya, in exchange for private concert performances.
While the people of their country were living in utter poverty and misery, and tortured and/or imprisoned if they ever dared to express dissent, General Qaddafi’s sons were throwing lavish parties in St. Bart’s, extending invitations to some very big names. A recent New Year’s Eve blowout featured back-to-back performances from Usher and Beyonce. The year prior, Mariah Carey rang in the New Year with the Qaddafi’s. All reportedly netted a whopping $1 million a piece for their services.
Obviously, this is nothing new. Celebrities are always being invited to perform at private parties; and they often accept these offers if the price is right. Last year, Elton John caught hell from the gay community after accepting an invitation (and a $1 million paycheck) to perform at a birthday party for (of all people) Rush fucking Limbaugh. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he explained his decision, citing a need for bridge building, rather than condemnation, in the battle for gay rights. He explained, “My goal is for Rush to say, ‘I support civil partnerships,’ and if I rang him right now, I think he might agree. He was one of the first people to congratulate us on the baby.” Fair enough, I guess.
But what about performing for a murderous, dictatorial regime?
At the end of the day, these were just gigs for Usher, Beyonce and Mariah, right? How was Beyonce supposed to know that she was being paid with money likely stolen from the pockets of the oppressed people of Libya? How could Usher have been aware that the pricey, complimentary hors d’oeuvres awaiting him in his dressing room after the show could have fed 10, 20, maybe 100 starving children back in his host’s home country? Pop stars aren’t experts in world affairs. Mariah Carey does not have a foreign policy.
But maybe she should.
Instead of partaking in some shitty, boring, all-star version of “What’s Goin On” or “We Are The World,” maybe it’s time for Pop stars to put their money where their mouths are, and reject blood money from bad people. Do some research, find out where these offers are really coming from, and stand for something. Send out a press release and let the world know that you’ve rejected an offer from (insert Dictator here). Explain why.
You’ve got money. You’ve got power. And you obviously have a voice.
It’s about time you started using it.