Dancing for dic­ta­tors: stars re­turn Gadafys’ mil­lion-dol­lar pay cheques

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

JUST AS A num­ber of cool in­die film stars pocket mil­lions of dol­lars for ap­pear­ing on a Ja­panese TV ad (and it’s writ­ten in their con­tract that the ad can never be screened in the West), the grubby lit­tle se­crets of more pop/rock stars are be­ing re­vealed.

The re­bel­lion/in­ter­ven­tion in Libya has seen many a skele­ton fall out of the mu­sic com­mu­nity’s closet as A-lis­ters take to Twit­ter to be­rate them­selves pub­licly for re­ceiv­ing shed­loads of money for per­form­ing for the Gadafy fam­ily. As the sub­ject is taken up by the me­dia, more un­savoury “pri­vate per­sonal ap­pear­ances” are com­ing to light.

Af­ter it came to pub­lic at­ten­tion (cour­tesy of Wik­iLeaks, which got hold of the Libyan gov­ern­ment’s “en­ter­tain­ment” bud­get sheets) that Bey­oncé and Usher were paid hand­somely to per­form for Gadafy’s son and na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor at a 2009 New Year’s Eve party on the Caribbean is­land of St Bart’s, both acts had sud­den changes of mind about the mil­lions they re­ceived and promptly an­nounced that they would for­ward the money to char­ity.

Just as Libya was re­ally kick­ing off, we learned that other big-name acts were sud­denly emp­ty­ing their piggy banks and loudly shout­ing “Sorry about that, it’s all go­ing to char­ity now”. This af­ter it was re­vealed that Nelly Fur­tado and Mariah Carey had also re­ceived money for “pri­vate per­for­mances” con­nected to the Gadafy fam­ily.

“Go­ing for­ward, this is a les­son for all artists to learn from,” pro­claimed La Carey. “We need to be more aware and take more re­spon­si­bil­ity. Ul­ti­mately, we as artists are to be held ac­count­able.”

Drop the “artist” BS, Maria, and the next time some­one pushes a cheque for $1 mil­lion into your hand for a one-night stand, just ask where the money is com­ing from.

Per­haps the weird­est rev­e­la­tion was that Fur­tado was able to get $1 mil­lion out of the Gadafys for a 45-minute show in 2007. Nelly re­cently tweeted: “In 20007, I re­ceived 1mil­lion$ from the Gaddafi clan to per­form a 45 min show for guests at a ho­tel in Italy. I am go­ing to do­nate the $ (to char­ity)”.

Which is all very ad­mirable, but for four years Fur­tado’s mil­lion­dol­lar pay­day was okay? Now it’s sud­denly be­come dirty? It’s not as if Gadafy’s gen­eral poli­cies and treat­ment of dis­si­dents was any dif­fer­ent back in 2007.

“When I saw Bey­oncé and Usher and who­ever else was out par­ty­ing with these Libyan crim­i­nals . . . these are peo­ple who have stolen tens of bil­lions of dol­lars from their nation,” said the ex-pres­i­dent of Reprise Records, Howie Klein. “For very, very wealthy pop­stars to take part in this kind of thing makes me want to puke.”

The per­form­ers’ ex­cuse that they were booked to play a pri­vate show and didn’t know who was ul­ti­mately pay­ing them doesn’t wash. If you’re of­fered a mil­lion dol­lars for a 45-minute ap­pear­ance (and there’s usu­ally a pri­vate jet to and from the gig thrown in), it be­hoves you to find out the prove­nance of the money.

As un­rest grips the oil-rich Saudi penin­sula coun­tries, sources have it that there’s a few A-list rock stars out there cur­rently quak­ing fever­ishly as they watch the ac­tion un­fold on CNN and won­der­ing when they’re go­ing to be fin­gered. Ex­pect some more mil­liond head­ing to char­ity any day soon.

Show me the money: Bey­oncé and Mariah Carey

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