Author: Jill Goatcher
With the leader of Libya, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and his family in the midst of a bloody battle to hold onto power, it seems like his family still has a love for “all the single ladies.” Diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks have provided a detailed view of their lavish spending over the years. Included in this view is supposed “blood money” that was used to pay artists like Beyoncé, 50 Cent, Nelly Furtado, Usher and Mariah Carey to perform for the Gaddafi family. The recent media attention given to these performances, and how much the artists were paid for them, has sparked a backlash against the performers themselves. This backlash is absolutely ludicrous, as these performers should not be seen in a negative light for doing their jobs.
The main goal of a musical artist is clear: Perform as often as possible in order to make money. A lack of interest in an artist’s music leads to a lack of money and eventually pushes the artist out of the profession. While many think that artists are overpaid, it is still in the artist’s best interest to accept any private bookings that they can. According to the leak, the Gaddafi family paid performers as much as two million dollars to perform at their parties.
Mariah Carey, who, according to the New York Times, was paid one million dollars just to sing four songs at a party in the Caribbean, has announced that she is donating the proceeds from a future single to human rights charities. This seems to be the trend among the celebrities who performed for Gaddafi and received substantial fees for doing so. 50 Cent has pledged to donate to UNICEF, Usher has said he will donate to human rights charities and Nelly Furtado has publicly promised to donate the full amount that she received from the Gaddafi performance, which was allegedly one million dollars.
While the donation pledges are admirable, there is no reason that public criticism should persuade these artists to donate this money. When it comes down to it, a job is a job. None of the artists had any idea that the situation in Libya would escalate to the extent that it has, and their professional actions should in no way mirror their political motives. While the money that they have promised to donate is relatively small in comparison to their annual revenues, it should not matter whether or not they keep the money.
These artists are facing backlash that should not exist. The public needs to accept that it is the artist’s job to entertain, which takes precedence over what could be mistakenly viewed as a stance with a government.
It is not like these artists were performing to promote or support the Gaddafi family. They were performing because they were hired, and this does not hold any other connotations. Musical artists should not be criticized by fans because of economic and professional decisions that are essential for survival in the entertainment industry.
Jill Goatcher is an undeclared first year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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