Evil Doers need music, too
Dictatorpalooza: Sting follows Beyonce on the Human Rights Who Cares Tour
What would you think about an old pop star performing a concert for a well known dictator? Now what would you say if I told you that artist was the former frontman for the Police — Sting?
It seems Sting must be hurting for money these days. How else can you justify playing at a so-called arts festival last fall put on by the daughter of Uzbekistan's cruel dictator, Islam Karimov. Karimov keeps getting "elected" due to the fact his opponents conveniently keep disappearing.
Sting — who is scheduled to play a slightly less controversial show at the Woodlands' Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion this June — admitted that Karimov is a bad guy but explained that “I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular."
The tickets for the show reportedly cost fans $1,000 to $2,000 per ducket. That’s 45 times more than the average Uzbek’s monthly income so you have to wonder who exactly was robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art? And if Sting didn't understand he was doing something wrong, why did he keep the concert a secret? The news of his November performance only came out this week.
How bad is Uzbekistan? Consider that even the Bush State Department called the country "an authoritarian state with limited civil rights" and complained that they allegedly tortured and killed terror suspects "by immersion in boiling water.” Makes you wonder if Sting was introduced by Kim Jong II of North Korea. (I mean really, if its not that big of deal to begin with.)
Now having rock stars perform at private affairs for people with less than stellar reputations is nothing new. Houston's own Beyonce performed for Muammar Gaddafi's son Hannibal — who has a long history of violence against women — at a New Year’s Eve party. Celine Dion put on a show for the Sultan of Brunei (whose regime is not real big regarding hospitality towards women, or possessing a basic understanding of human rights).
It's hard to understand what compels someone to rationalize performing a show under those circumstances (besides the huge dollars, Beyonce's one-hour appearance reportedly netted her $2 million). Sting is much more hard up than Beyonce though. Still, Sting's also cast himself as human-rights activist in the past.
I guess Sting was right when he sang; “When the world is running down, you make the best of what’s still around."