Gwen Plays It Safe In Malaysia
Gwen Stefani promised to be a "good girl" and covered up for her concert in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 21st.
During her two-hour show, the American pop singer wore jackets over her tight-fitting tops and leotards under her dresses and miniskirts.
"I am practically Malaysian," she told the audience of 10,000 screaming fans, including mothers in traditional Muslim head coverings escorting young daughters. The crowd also included members of a militant student group that protested the concert when it was first announced.
"I just want you to know I am very inspired tonight," she continued. "You are a very, very amazing audience." She waved a small Malaysian flag and said "thank you" in the local language. Stefani’s feelings for the Asian country may have something to do with the fact that her husband, Gavin Rossdale, has relatives living in Kuala Lumpur.
Before the concert, two groups objected strongly to Stefani’s show. The National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students claimed that her usual show would erode Islamic values. The opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party said Stefani promoted promiscuity and corrupted youth.
Before the show, Stefani talked to a local magazine and said it was the first time she had ever encountered such resistance, adding that she thought she was being "misunderstood." The party was not appeased.
"We’re not satisfied just because she covered up at the concert," party official Kamarulzaman Mohamed told reporters. "Outside, she still wears sexy clothes and influences teenagers who idolize her. It’s bad to have immoral artists visiting Malaysia."
Beyoncé is the next Western star who will face scrutiny in Malaysia. She is scheduled to perform in the country November 1st.
"We’ve informed Beyoncé’s management about this issue of clothes, but it takes some of the fun out of it," said Razlan Ahmad Razali, chairman of Pineapple Concerts, which is organizing Beyoncé’s concert. "Beyoncé won’t be able to do the kind of show here that she does elsewhere," Razlan said. "She’s a fashion icon, and we know that she often wears miniskirts and clothes that expose her navel during her performances. It’s a pity to restrict her, because her costumes are all tasteful and glamorous."
Malaysia’s government guidelines for public performances require female artists to cover up from the top of the chest to the knees, including the shoulders. Performers may not hug or kiss, and their clothes must not have obscene or drug-related images or messages. The Malaysian organizers of a Pussycat Dolls concert last year were fined after the group was accused of flouting decency regulations.
In April, Kanye West faced trouble because government officials didn’t want him to perform his hit "Jesus Walks," because they thought it would offend certain religious sensibilities.
According to an anonymous source in an AP report, Christina Aguilera decided to drop Kuala Lumpur from her recent Asian tour because of the restrictions.