Monday, December 26, 2016

When George Michael ridiculed George W. Bush and Tony Blair

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There were another side to George Michael's personality. One that made his political opinion known, loud and clear. He wasn’t an activist as such, even if the British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said he was “a strong supporter of LGBT and workers’ rights”. Nevertheless, he took a very courageous stand against the US-led invasion of Iraq and ridiculed George W. Bush and Tony Blair in a hilarious video.

In 2002, he released a single called “Shoot the Dog”. It “was absolutely an attack on Tony Blair, principally, and the perspective which is really predominant in Europe right now that he's not questioning enough of Mr. Bush's policies", he said back then.

The video – a brilliantly funny animation by the people behind the satirical British cartoon series 2DTV – portrays George W. Bush as a complete moron, manipulated by a sock puppet, and Tony Blair as his faithful and obedient dog.

"Tony, Tony, Tony, I know that you're horny, but there's somethin' bout that Bush that ain't right'" George Michael sings. Then, apparently attacking the US response to September 11, he adds: "Nine nine nine gettin' jiggy. People did you see that fire in the city? It's like you're getting fresh out of democratic. Gotta get yourself a little something semi-automatic."

Michael declared after the single's release: "Shoot the Dog is intended as a piece of political satire, no more, no less, and I hope that it will make people laugh and dance, and think a little."

He told the Daily Mirror: "I don't consider Americans bullies, but I do consider the American government bullying. Our government needs to reassure [our] Islamic population that we are not going into the Middle East with a gung-ho attitude, blindly following America."

Quoted by The Guardian, the editor of the British music magazine NME, Conor McNicholas, said: "It's either really ballsy or commercial suicide. The potential to have people burning CDs in the States and banning him from shops in the Bible belt is very real."

He added: "There's obviously a huge tradition of politics in rock music, but it's utterly died out and it's bizarre that it takes someone who was so manufactured to be the person who nails their colours to the mast."

But the ex-Wham! didn’t take himself too seriously and, along with Bush and Blair, he made fun of his own sexuality and his different public personas. A very daring move not many artists had the courage to make.

George Michael passed away on Christmas day, he was 53. He will surely be missed.

© Claude El Khal, 2016