Saturday, August 29, 2009

Not gonna be such a good night for Muslims in Malaysia

The Black Eyed Peas are scheduled to play a concert near Kuala Lumpur on September 25, but the Malaysian government has banned all Muslims from attending the show. It seems the fact that the show will be sponsored by Guinness beer goes against Islamic law, which prohibits the consumption of alcohol.

The show is only allowed to go on at all because authorities think it will be good for tourism. Not for Muslim tourists of course; even Muslims that live outside the country are legally forbidden to consume booze there -- and to go to the show. (No beer will be sold at the concert either.)

Black Eyed Peas fans are not the only ones to feel the wrath of Malaysia's strict booze laws. A model who is visiting Malaysia was recently convicted of drinking a beer. For her transgression she was to face four lashes with a bamboo cane (her caning has been suspended until after Ramadan). She wants it to be a public caning, to set an example to other Muslims.

As for the Black Eyed Peas, I have a deeply ambivalent attitude toward them. They mostly just make me depressed. Their first two records are great. But the fact that the first track on their first record, "Fallin' Up" off Behind the Front, contains the lines "Is it 'cause we don't wear Tommy Hilfiger or baseball caps?/ We don't use dollars to represent, we just use our inner sense and talent", their Dr. Pepper commercials were a little hard to swallow when they came out. It's only gotten worse.

I bristle at the idea of accusing artists of "selling out". There's nothing wrong with success, however you define it. Black Eyed Peas know how to write hits (I doubt they play "Fallin' Up" very often these days), but I can't say I dig their music these days.

I think the late great Bill Hicks said it best:

He also said it here, but less directly. "It's only your dignity. Suck it!"

**UPDATE** Looks like the BEP show in Malaysia is back on. Score one for the moderates.

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