Know your audience

July 1, 2013

Aside from creating the best body of work in all of pop music, the Beatles also had the good sense to avoid consorting with dictators.

While on tour in the Philippines in 1966, the Fab Four took a pass on an invitation to visit the country’s notorious kleptocratic president, Ferdinand Marcos, and his Marie Antoinette-like wife, Imelda. Though it caused the band some complications when they tried to exit the country, history has since demonstrated the Beatles were astute to avoid rubbing shoulders with figures as detestable as the Marcoses.

Jennifer Lopez could learn a lesson or two from John, Paul, George and Ringo. Last Saturday night, for a hefty paycheck, the former “American Idol” judge performed at a resort in Turkmenistan for its human rights-abusing president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, as well as a selection of Berdymukhamedov’s pals.

“We wish you the very happiest birthday,” Lopez apparently called out to the dictator.

After coming under heavy criticism for performing for the leaders of a country that’s been described as one of the world’s most repressive, Lopez and her handlers are now saying they were unaware of Turkmenistan’s human rights record and wouldn’t have performed there had they been so informed.

In an age when everything a performer does is market-tested and precisely calibrated, it seems ironic that Lopez and her minions apparently knew so little about their audience.



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