One More Reason to Hate Sting | Bleader

One More Reason to Hate Sting

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You gotta hand it to Sting: the guy just doesn't stop. Most people who inspire the hatred of literally millions of people for a long list of entirely valid reasons—from his shitty music to his preternatural self-regard to his insistence on planting in my mind, even for the briefest of horrifying seconds, the image of him having hours-long tantric sex—would probably rest on their laurels. But what makes Sting a genius is that he gets to that point and then apparently asks himself, "What can I do to make more people hate me, and make the hordes of people who already hate the fuck out of me hate the fuck out of me even more?"

The answer, of course, is to get paid millions of dollars for a performance for the daughter of a despot whose regime has allegedly achieved almost supernatural levels of corruption and nastiness: rigging elections, draining one of the largest inland seas in the world to irrigate cash crops, forcing armies of child laborers to work in the fields, torturing prisoners and boiling them to death. I could go on.

Islam Karimov is the "president" of Uzbekistan, and he seems like quite the guy. You may remember him from the brief uproar surrounding the Bush administration's decision to use Uzbekistan as a staging ground for the war on terror, as a lot of people didn't like having the U.S. suck up to a dictator in order to get some parking spaces for planes. I put scare quotes around Karimov's title because, in the time since he last made headlines in the U.S., he's unconstitutionally run for a third term, and the election itself was fixed so blatantly it was almost comical. (Protip: Having your mock opponents praise you in their campaign speeches is kinda overkill.)

Back in October, Sting played a concert at a cultural festival in Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent, that was organized by Gulnara Karimova, the dictator's daughter. The Guardian reports that he was paid between one and two million pounds for doing so. Keep in mind that even before this payday, Sting lived in a castle, rode in helicopters as often as I grab cabs, and had a personal fortune conservatively estimated at around $225 million. Dude wasn't selling used CDs at Reckless to pay his phone bill or anything.

And don't forget that a good number of the millions of people who hate Sting do so because of his outspoken limousine liberalism, which specifically revolves around environmental and human rights concerns. (Those who agree with his political views just hate him for his smugness or his solo records.)

A lesser asshole, when busted for doing something so obviously unethical and hypocritical just to get paid, might issue a mea culpa, disavow his actions, and donate the dirty money to charity. Sting, on the other hand, addressed the rumors of his Uzbek payday, which have been swirling for months, by basically telling everyone to eat a dick.

In a statement he wrote, "I am well aware of the Uzbek president's appalling reputation in the field of human rights as well as the environment. I made the decision to play there in spite of that. I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular."

You see? The only reason he openly betrayed the political views that he's made into a cornerstone of his career and played a concert with an admission price that, as the Guardian points out, was 45 times the monthly income of the average Uzbekistani was to avoid denying the average Uzbekistani an "open commerce of ideas and art."

Brilliant.

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