Pop Life

For J. Lo: Five More World Leaders Who Don't Deserve a Happy Birthday

J. Lo's Marilyn Monroe moment may not have gone as well as she planned.

You see, when Monroe sang the words "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy, the controversy arose by murmurs of an affair. When J. Lo sang those words, scandal came by means of scathing headlines about human-rights violations and violent dictatorships. Not all press is good press, folks.

But in case you haven't seen all of the press about her recent dictatorial faux pas, here's what happened. The Chinese National Petroleum Corporation paid Jenny From the Block to perform at birthday party for Turkmenistani president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, taking place at a resort in the Caspian Sea. Thing is, according to Human Rights Watch (and nearly every other watchdog group), he happens to be one hell of a nasty dude.

He has a penchant for removing the most basic human rights of Turkmen citizens; free speech and freedom of religion are a no-no, and threats and torture are a tool the heavy-handed dictator uses liberally to keep those type of things in check. According to HRW, the nation has one of the most closed, repressive governments in the world, and yet it's still one for which J. Lo not only performed, but also gave a shout-out to during her performance.

Yes, a shout-out. Somewhere along the way, J. Lo not only told the president-cum-dictator, "It was our pleasure, and we wish you the very happiest birthday," but also shouted, "Turkmenistan!" to the crowd. As long as she's reppin' the president's hood, right?

So, yeah. People were obviously puzzled and somewhat outraged that Lopez would do the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation -- whom she now blames for inviting her -- a solid by wishing the dude a happy birthday, and rightfully so.

The country, under the current regime, is wrought with a terrible record of torture, Internet censorship, prison abuse -- you name it, they've done it -- and this birthday celebration was part of a week-long propaganda fest, billed as a cultural week that happened to coincide with Berdymukhamedov's birthday.

Jenny from the Block, for her part, has claimed naivete about the Turkmen ruler's record, stating that had she known about the human-rights violations, she would not have agreed to perform.

The CNPC "made a last-minute 'birthday greeting' request prior to Jennifer taking the stage," J. Lo's publicist said in a statement. "This was not stipulated in her contract but she graciously obliged."

Given that it's the age of the Google, and information on things like "presidents who are also evil overlords" is readily available at the drop of a smartphone, it's hard to understand how nobody in that notoriously enormous camp that surrounds J. Lo had any idea of the world around them, but that's the story and they're stickin' to it.

Since no one in J. Lo's camp seems to know how to search the Internet for things like 'possible dictator birthday parties" or "dangerous-nation heads of state to perform for," we here at Rocks Off thought we'd help her out a bit so that this little snafu doesn't happen again. You know, for next time.

Here's our list, J. Lo: Five World Leaders Who Don't Deserve a Happy Birthday.

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Angelica Leicht
Contact: Angelica Leicht