11 March 2013
Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn sat grim-faced at Hugo Chavez's funeral on Friday - one of a clutch of Hollywood stars who lionized the late Venezuelan dictator. Following a long tradition of Hollywood liberals, Penn was joined by Oliver Stone, Danny Glover and documentary maker Michael Moore in lauding the Venezuelan head of state after his death. An eclectic cast of celebrities, leftist and center-right head of states attended Chavez's state funeral on Friday. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a close ally, broke with protocol to kiss the casket.
Rodman and the 3 Harlem Globetrotters players who accompanied him, are simply the most recent in a long line of American cultural celebrities who have actually paid high-profile visits to brutal dictatorships over the years, handing public relations gold mines to a totalitarians. "The guy's really awesome. Guess what, I love him" stated former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman after meeting North Korean totalitarian Kim Jong-un. Maybe for Dennis Rodman, seeing North Korea additionally offered the adventure of the stunt, like the time he donned a wedding apparel to promote his experience.
From Jack Nicholson meeting Fidel Castro and praising him as "a genius" to Sean Penn visiting Iraq to oppose Allied military action against Saddam Hussein, American stars have in current years continued the tradition of permitting themselves to be installed by totalitarians.
No doubt some of these tourists were well-intentioned candidates of worldwide peace and harmony. Others - particularly the ones who are past their prime - may be brought in more by the appeal of the limelight and a paycheck.
Among the first American entertainers to visit the brand-new Soviet Union was Isadora Duncan, one of the leading figures in American dance in the 1920s. She returned from Russia bursting with interest for the communist course, and started concluding her efficiencies by waving a red scarf over her head.
Paul Robeson, the singer and actor, made a number of trips to the Soviet Union, starting in 1934. His luxurious praise of the Soviet regimen provided much propaganda fodder for the Kremlin.
The check out to Hanoi in 1972 by actress Jane Fonda is maybe the most well-known event of an American performer loaning on-the-scene propaganda support to a North Vietnam dictator.
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