Editorial | Bon Jovi, two systems

Paulo Coutinho

Paulo Coutinho

The Bon Jovi China tour was trimmed to Macau following the abrupt cancelation of their concerts in Shanghai and Beijing.
The international press – from the Financial Times, to The Guardian and The Washington Post – speculates that past political references to Tibet by the band, five years ago, are the probable reason why the promoters decided to call off the two shows on the mainland.
Although last minute, the cancelation comes as no surprise. The regime in Beijing doesn’t tolerate criticism, especially when it comes to Tibet or anything related to what it considers the country’s borders. Especially, when it comes at a time when the Xi Jinping leadership is trying to demonstrate their might – economically, territorially, militarily, historically even.
I, myself, am not altogether fond of artists using the stage beyond their art to proclaim political opinion – they are hired to sing their songs and play their music and that is how they fill rooms, arenas or stadiums. The message, whatever the message, is already bottled in their creations.
Let’s be clear: Jon BJ et al should be free to speak their minds whenever and wherever they want – at the risk of being redundant, I cherish the freedom of expression. But that’s not the point.
The point is people go to concerts mostly because they empathize with their pop-rock idols.
Fans want to see their favorite stars performing live because it’s a rare opportunity to interface with them and because they like their tunes, their lyrics, their voices, their musicians. Looks, fashion, hairstyle or lifestyle, whatever, also play a part in the construction of a fan’s empathy. And a pop star’s stance on politics may also help build a bond, yes.
But that is not what a ticket to a Bon Jovi concert promotes and anticipates. It promotes and anticipates ‘the’ participation in a unique Bon Jovi live gig –­ the audience then becomes part of that particular performance. Therefore part of the artist’s, their idol’s history. That’s the magic right there.
Having said that, it is good to know the concerts in Macau are about to happen – as scheduled on Sept 25 and 26. Not only because I may want to see Jon BJ, but because it proves that we, in this town, live in a different system to the one on the other side of the northern border.
A system so different that Jon Bon Jovi can sing here (and not on the mainland) despite his political ideas.


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