Today’s current events? Six months ago? It’s not as if Gaddafi became reprehensible only yesterday. “The mad dog of the Middle East,” as Ronald Reagan once called him, has been in power since 1969, and there has never been any doubt that Gaddafi has spent those decades funding, facilitating, instigating, and personally directing international terrorism – including, according to a recent claim from the Libyan Justice Minister, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. It’s hard to believe that any American performer who has ever accepted a check from Gaddafi or his family can plead ignorance of his monstrous evil.
In all fairness however, megastars often live in warm and fuzzy cocoons of political ignorance, tended by handlers who have a vested interest in keeping them clueless and the money flowing. Which is why Furtado, Beyoncé and Carey, claiming ignorance and subsequently donating the ill-gotten gains, have earned a measure of redemption.
Randy Phillips claims that if artists were asked to perform for Gaddafi and crew today, “the answer would obviously be a resounding 'No way!'” Unfortunately, too many prominent figures in the biz would say “No way!” not because it’s unconscionable, but because such a performance would simply be bad press.
And who’s to say what constitutes monstrous evil anyway? Many stars like directors Oliver Stone and Michael Moore, and actors Sean Penn and Danny Glover, count anti-American dictators among their close friends, and progressives went apoplectic when Elton John “betrayed” them by performing recently at the wedding of the satanic Rush Limbaugh. So “Which private shows are unethical?” the industry rag The Hollywood Reporter recently wondered. Where to draw the line?
Well, to lay it out for those in the entertainment biz whose value system has been sucked dry of moral clarity, or who never had any in the first place: no artist should perform for enemies of the United States, foreign and domestic, and supporters of worldwide terrorism (whether you agree or disagree with Rush, he isn’t stoking international terrorism or trying to bring down Western civilization). Should artists have the right to accept private gigs from unsavory figures, even openly hostile anti-Americans? Of course. It should be their choice – and the price for accepting those gigs should be to face public denunciation and shame.