Entertainment behind the scenes
Have Gaddafi stars gone far enough?
Beyonce, Nelly Furtado and Mariah Carey have all tried to repair any damage that their links to the tainted regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi may have caused them.
On Monday, Furtado tweeted that she would give away the $1 million she earned for just 45 minutes performing before the clan in Italy in 2007. OK, it’s a start, but when, and to whom, and how will anyone know?
Then Beyonce issued a statement saying she had already donated her Gaddafi-stained fee to a Haiti charity. This is also problematic. Judging by comments which stories on this issue have prompted, some people want to know for sure that the money Beyonce so admirably gave to a good cause was the money she earned from the New Year’s Eve concert hosted by one of the Libyan leader’s sons. Otherwise, they argue, the singer is merely avoiding coughing up another million in addition to money she already decided to give.
And finally came Mariah Carey, who took to the web on Thursday with her own response. She, like Beyonce, has been embarrassed by her participation in Gaddafi-hosted New Year’s eve parties on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, a predicament her PR team described as “a slight pr problem”.
A statement on her website called Gaddafi a “vicious, crazy dictator”, but then went on to say that Carey’s involvement at the show was before Libya was in the news and the fact that it was now an issue was “sort of ridiculous”. Carey was described as “very philanthropic” and the statement went on to list her charitable ventures to date, including donating earnings from her song “Hero” to good causes. For good measure, Carey also said she would donate any proceeds from a new song called “Save the Day” “for human rights issues”.
Carey’s own statement read: “I was naive and unaware of who I was booked to perform for. I feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in this mess. Going forward, this is a lesson for all artists to learn from. We need to be more aware and take more responsibility regardless of who books our shows. Ultimately we as artists are to be held accountable.”
Opinions on these various actions are mixed. Some readers praise the artists for facing up to the truth, and express some sympathy at the way world events have swung against them in recent weeks. Others don’t buy it. All three stars are accused of putting their paychecks before their principles, and some commentators doubt the sincerity of their response to the problem.
It will be interesting to see if this issue rumbles on, or whether life returns to normal for the stars who have sought to extract themselves from an awkward situation. There are other singers too who have been linked to Libya in one way or another — Usher (named by Carey), Lionel Richie and Spanish tenor Jose Carreras (who both sang in Tripoli in 2006) to name but three.
One lesson in all this must surely be — be careful who you sing for.