Gadhafi's Entertainers

So It seems quite certain Mariah Carey was paid a million dollars to sing four songs for some sort of party at Gadhafi’s palace in Libya. Less clear at the moment are rumors that Lionel Richie, Beyonce and other people also took blood money.

They are entertainers. On the other hand, Gadhafi is a dictator.

Think there will be any consequences for these people? Should there be?


Subscribing in hope.

Lionel Richie was asked to play in Tripoli by both the Libyans and the U.S. State Department at a time when relations were beginning to thaw.

Let’s be charitable and drop him from the list.

People doing what they do for a living shouldn’t be judged for the people who employ their services. Is the guy who installs cable in a Mafia don’s house taking “blood money”? Or O.J. Simpson’s caddy?

Within reason, of course. If Gadhafi hired Mariah Carey to shoot protesters, you’d have a point. He hired her to sing? Meh, don’t really care.

There is a difference between what is legal and what is moral. We ought not to confuse the two.

Sure, but when for the last few years even the US government was signaling a sort-of-normalization of relations, I find it hard to get mad over a mere entertainer taking a gig for the dictator we’re trying to normalize with. I’ll just shake my head at the sort of people showbiz and political types are willing to associate with (here’s looking at ya, Frank S., Jane F., etc…).

It’s not like there’s some General Movement for Boycotting Bad People, it usually takes a specific cause. As in “Say I, I, I, I Ain’t gonna play Sun City…” (and that was 20 years ago).

I admit that my opinion of Mariah Carey has dropped because of this revalation.

But still, until the protests started, Qaddaffi hadn’t really done much of anything in years. It’s probably not that big a deal.

So what kind of ‘consequences’ were you threatening in your OP ?

I understand the difference.

And I stand by my initial reaction to this issue: “Meh, don’t really care.”

In the last couple of years, Libya seemed to be making some moves towards turning itself around. Publicly giving up its WMD programs, allowing inspections, working with the US in regards to terrorism, etc. The US signed a military cooperation agreement with Libya, UN sanctions were lifted and Libya was negotiating to enter the WTO.

Given that these performances were all prior to this sudden upheaval in the Middle East and Libya, no, I don’t fault any of those performers.

“Blood money?” Oil money would be more like it.

And no, I don’t have a problem with entertainers performing anywhere they like.

So it was OK Queen performed at apartheid Sun City? I would propose the same consequences for Carey as there were for Freddie Mercury.

Shhh, quiet. You’re going to make poor Commissar cry.

By this standard you have to boycott all of show business up until recently. The mob either owned or were visibly powerful in most of the nightclubs in the country. Every entertainer worked with them, performed for them, went to private shows, and got drunk and womanized (if male) with them. Las Vegas was pure mob money. When the gangsters took over Cuba, everybody who went there to perform knew that the mob was in control. The biggest stars in the country played in Havana.

Playing private concerts for millionaires and billionaires goes back to Shakespeare. (Yeah, and beyond, but he’s a good name to drop.) How many of those fortunes were clean? Sure, murderous dictators are a moral leap up from the “great crimes” that lie behind every million dollars. But with our government pushing reconciliation with Libya, this is the fakest of outrage. Either apply it across the board or drop it.

So you have no gut-level feeling of outrage that Occidental (IIRC) does business in Burma? Completely legal after all.

“Any contractor willing to work on that Death Star knew the risks. If they were killed, it was their own fault.”

Outrage fatigue is real. There are hundreds, thousands, of actions to get outraged by. Multi-national companies function all over the world and they all work with one another. If you want to find something to be outraged by you can. With every company, including your local shoe repair store. (Those chemicals!)

Every person in public life interacts with scum. Sometimes they have to, sometimes they take money from them, sometimes they do so inadvertantly.

Is it hypocritical to pick and choose your outrages, and ignore the other multiple thousands? Probably. But nobody could possibly have the time to be outraged by everything, and if you took the time you couldn’t function in society. Are some outrages worse than others? Undoubtedly. Would you and I rank them the same way? Undoubtedly not.

But this is one - of the many, many - reasons I don’t go to GD. I find any argument on this empty rhetoric. But I’m sure there have been a zillion heated threads on exactly this issue.

Funding a dictator like Gadhafi, now that’s objectionable (though most folks probably do so on a regular basis without a second thought). But taking money from him, to do something which is, per se, not morally questionable at all? Any dollar that he spent on Mariah Carey’s singing is a dollar that he didn’t spend on death squads. If anything, we should be thanking her and the other entertainers who have worked for him.

Well, in truth I am taking money from a dictator. OTOH, I am destroying his culture.

I think this argument is sort of silly.
Lots of press wondering how America’s friendship with many of these dictators will pan out over the long run with the local populace.

Let’s say you had a mean, alcoholic brother-in-law. You despised him, but your sister married him and lived with him and had kids. So you make peace, you might even give/lend him some money for a down payment on a house. You even invite him over on Thanksgiving and bite your tongue.
Later, when your sister finally wakes up and dumps that asshole, are you now the bad guy?
Should the family hate you for enabling the BIL?

I don’t think anyone in Washington “loved” any of these dictators, but after 10, 20, 30 or 40 years or more in power, it would be kind of silly to still ignore them. You can’t go into every country with a despot and start a war for democracy - we have learned that the hard way.
So you try to make peace, as best you can.
Later, when there is an uprising and they dump the idiot, you help those who need it to get back on their feet as soon as possible.

So, getting back to the celebrities - they were just doing their job; performing.
They didn’t stand up with fists raised, supporting some wild ass dictator - they simply performed their music.
For all we know, they might have donated some of that money to the local populace.