On Tuesday, the airwaves were blowing up about Lady Gaga turning down a cool million from last summer's gig at the RNC. The GOP got upset and wanted to remind everyone that Lady Gaga didn't diss them, it was really American Action Network, their fundraising partner.
The official GOP website denied they ever offered a gig, saying:
Anyhoo, whether it was officially or unofficially the GOP's bidding, the important thing is that Lady Gaga has standards! She wears meat, she has a Louis Vuitton wheelchair, but she won't sing for Republicans!
It is a common debate whether stars should stick to their guns about their morals or entertain where the money is. 2011's Wikileaks scandal revealed that Mariah Carey, Usher, and Beyoncé all performed (for big bucks) at New Year's Eve parties for Gaddafi's family. Later Mariah said she was embarrassed that she participated and Beyoncé said she was actually donating the money to earthquake relief in Haiti. This was of course after a mountain of bad press...
Other sellouts (too harsh?) include Queen, Elton John, and Tina Turner who all got flack for playing at the Sun City casino resort in South Africa during the apartheid era. James Brown and B.B. King performed for dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1974. Bob Marley jammed for Robert Mugabe, of Zimbabwe, at his swearing-in in 1980. Hilary Swank and singer Seal went to Grozny last year to entertain Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov at his 35th birthday party. To be clear, all of these dictators have been charged with multiple violations of human rights for killing thousands of people and starting civil wars, for starters.
Sting, who performed at a 2009 concert for the daughter of Uzbekistan dictator Islam Karimov wasn't even conflicted, he thought he was a cultural ambassador, opening new communication to closed societies. Let's not forget Dennis Rodman's recent vaca to North Korea and his new BFF Kim Jong-un. And of course Naomi Campbell got a lot shit for getting a diamond from Liberian dictator Charles Taylor at a dinner at the home of former South African President Nelson Mandela, talk about opportunism!
The question is, should celebs turn down millions for their morals? Should they take politics into question when booking a gig? There is so much shit that goes on in the world that if stars really considered closely every performance they gave there would always be something in their way, but when is it going too far? Beyond the bad press that is sure to follow, celebs are public figures and have a duty to their fans, but is performing for a dictator and accepting his money the same as implicit support?
How much should we penalize celebrities for accepting a good gig when it is morally questionable?