Gulnara Karimova is the scary daughter of a scary dictator. Think Uday Hussein as a blonde with autotune. As promised, Karimova — who moonlights as a fashion designer and pop star in between serving as Uzbekistan's ambassador to Spain and permanent representative to the U.N. in Geneva, and, you know, being implicated in trafficking thousands of Uzbek women against their will to work in the international sex trade — has released her debut English-language pop album under the stage name Googoosha. And it's as bad as we feared.
Central Asian current affairs blog Registan has this interpretation of the video for the song "How Dare," which it calls, "among other things, a comment on gender and power in Uzbekistan":
The video's partly Rihanna-inspired footage depicts Man-Hunk tortured by a monstrous identity (instinct?) struggling to get out. The woman is portrayed as beautiful, intelligent, and sophisticated, telepathically directing Man-Hunk to realize his destructive potential by breaking a store window, stealing a television, and then smashing it on the street. Or is he acting on his own accord? Beauty and the Beast, never interacting through the video, stand side by side, walking down a dark, empty street, then gaze at their separate reflections in another window. The camera closes in on the man, whose reflection becomes Googoosha, and then he himself becomes Googoosha staring at herself in the window.
Karimova is the daughter of the Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov. Uzbekistan became a strategic ally to the U.S. after 9/11 largely because it shares a border with Afghanistan, even though the Karimov regime occasionally does things like execute political prisoners by boiling them alive. Congress eased restrictions on military aid to the Central Asian nation. Hillary Clinton has visited.
Despite the Karimov dictatorship's abysmal record on freedom of the press, its brutal suppression of dissidents, and its fondness for torture, Gulnara Karimova, a Harvard graduate and a resident of Switzerland, travels to the U.S. frequently and apparently freely; she has shown her clothing line, Guli, at New York fashion week. That Karimova fancies herself a player in fashion is perhaps especially galling considering that one of Uzbekistan's largest and most corrupt industries, after oil and gas, is cotton. The country is one of the world's biggest suppliers of cotton for the apparel and textile industries, and Uzbek cotton production is notorious for its reliance of child and forced labor. Karimova also plays up her tenuous associations with various charities, including the Susan G. Komen foundation. Karimova is reportedly using a PR firm to secure fawning coverage of her various fashion-related endeavors ahead of this coming runway season. So far, the Huffington Post "Style" section has taken the bait.
Karimova's second single is a duet with Gerard Depardieu. Halfway through the song, which Karimova sings in Russian, the actor breaks in in French to apologize "for all the things left unsaid." Maybe that could be a reference to the fact that Karimova is a key player in a kleptocratic, torture-happy dictatorship, and a woman who has herself made millions by stealing from and torturing her own people? All those are certainly things left unsaid in this song.