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Why aren’t we mad when pop stars perform for Wal-Mart_ - Salon

Why aren’t we mad when pop stars perform for Wal-Mart_ - Salon

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Published by Becket Adams
Why aren’t we mad when pop stars perform for Wal-Mart_ - Salon
Why aren’t we mad when pop stars perform for Wal-Mart_ - Salon

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Published by: Becket Adams on Sep 04, 2013
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05/15/2014

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9/4/13Why arent we mad when pop stars perform for Wal-Mart? - Salon.comwww.salon.com/2013/09/03/why_arent_we_mad_when_pop_stars_perform_for_wal_mart/1/5
Sure, Kanye went to Kazakhstan. Just about every other star has paid tribute to the toxicemployer
 VIDEO
BY DANIEL D'ADDARIO
 
TOPICS:
VIDEO
,
JENNIFER HUDSON
,
KELLY CLARKSON
,
JOHN LEGEND
,
HUGH JACKMAN
,
TOM CRUISE
,
ELTON JOHN
,
TAYLOR SWIFT
,
WALMART
,
ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake perform a skit during the Wal-Mart shareholders' meeting in Fayetteville, Ark., June 1, 2012. (Credit: AP/April L Brown)
Kanye West is just the latest music star to perform for a dictator;the rapper appearedat thewedding of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s grandson, reportedly performing his2007 single “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” While no news about the compensation West may havereceived for his performance has leaked out, it’s part of an unfortunate recent history of starsserenading the world’s worst leaders. President Nazarbayevhas, per the New York Times,“ruled Kazakhstan in an autocratic fashion since the fall of the Soviet Union” and been involvedin crackdowns on unions with a body count; the New Yorker has reportedon his ambitions to build a cosmopolitan Western-style capital, the sort of place West might feel comfortable.
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 Not likely. Indeed, while celebrities enjoy the opportunity to market themselves to Wal-Martemployees, those same employees are struggling; Wal-Mart’s recent history of hiring tempworkersto avoid paying benefits, paying paltry sumsfor hard work, and allegedlyfiring striking employeesis well-documented. Indeed, Barbara Collins, an employee fired after her involvement in a 100-strong strike, traveled to Wal-Mart’s shareholders’ meeting this year. Tom
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Appearing at the Wal-Mart shareholders’ convention has become the equivalent of making acommercial in Japan — it’s an opportunity to boost your brand among a discreet audience (allthose gathered in a stadium in Arkansas) and ensure that your participation won’t make much of an impact in the outside world; we’re in such a star-saturated culture that there’s always bigger news than a rather boring corporate speech Tom Cruise delivers. And the canniest stars ensurethat no one outside Fayetteville will see their performances: Taylor Swift, through her musiclabel, and Jennifer Lopez have reportedly evenrefused to allowvideo of their Wal-Mart performances to end up online. We can only imagine the stage banter!Swift’s is a judicious if crass decision, as it gets the best of both worlds — providingentertainment to mistreated employees while ensuring that no one will be able to connect her image to a misbehaving brand. And yet these stars deserve attention paid to them, as much asdoes West for his Kazakh performance. It’s easy to shame stars for performing for dictators weknow from the pages of newspapers or find out about for the first time when Kanye West meetsthem. It’s more difficult to confront the fact that the right to be treated fairly by one’s employer isroutinely violated in the U.S. — and the stars paying tribute to the violators are not the exception but the rule.
 Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him onTwitter @DPD_ 
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