Special report: foreign affairs
George Michael video rages at US policy in Middle East and attacks 'poodle' Blair
Tuesday July 2, 2002
The line of rock and roll dissidents which stretches from Bob Dylan to Billy Bragg boasts a new and unlikely recruit this week: George Michael.
Known better for his permatan than his political views, the pop star has reincarnated himself as a protest singer with an assault on US foreign policy and British acquiescence in his new single Shoot the Dog.
The startling animated video shows Tony Blair as a poodle being cossetted by George Bush and as a ship's captain steering Britain towards America
Michael himself gooses the Queen before turning up in the Blairs' bedroom astride a nuclear missile and attempting to seduce Cherie Blair, who appears unimpressed by his leopardskin thong. "So Cherie, my dear, could you leave the way clear for sex tonight?" Michael sings.
"Tell him: 'Tony, Tony, Tony, I know that you're horny, but there's somethin' bout that Bush that ain't right'."
Another line, apparently attacking the US response to September 11, runs: "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."
The musical outburst was yesterday backed by a statement urging Mr Blair to listen to public opinion on foreign policy and to be a "calming and rational influence" on President Bush.
He asked Mr Blair: "On an issue as enormous as the possi ble bombing of Iraq, how can you represent us when you haven't asked us what we think? ... Could we have a little chat about Saddam?"
Michael added: "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."
Downing Street declined to comment on the video and those in the music industry seem equally bemused by the singer's sudden outburst.
"It's either really ballsy or commercial suicide," said Conor McNicholas, incoming editor of the NME. "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."
Anna-Louise Weatherley, acting editor of Smash Hits, said that since his arrest for indecency in a public toilet in Los Angeles in 1998, Michael appeared to be more open with his fans. "I think it's given him the courage to voice his opinions; he doesn't seem to be scared any more about how he's perceived," she said.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002