dictators who love dance-pop

Murderous Dictator Also Has Bad Taste in Music

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
President of Syria AND the Chris Brown fan club. Photo: PPO/Getty Images

The Guardian has gotten its hands on a trove of emails it says are from the inner circle of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma. Asma, who was famously and glowingly profiled in Vogue just as her husband’s brutal crackdown was reaching full force, does a whole lot of Internet shopping — jewelry, chandeliers, bespoke furniture, that sort of thing. Her husband also does a fair amount of e-commerce damage, but he’s more into culture than jewels.

Not only does the dictator display a remarkable insensitivity to the human suffering his regime has caused — one email shows him linking to a “funny” YouTube video re-enacting the siege of Homs using toys and food —  but he’s got low-to-middlebrow taste. He’s a total Potterhead, downloading “several” Harry Potter apps in addition to one of the films. Like every jerky manager in America, he eagerly ordered the Steve Jobs bio. He sent his wife a link to an “America’s Got Talent” clip that he referred to as the best illusion of all time. Recent iTunes orders include Chris Brown (not exactly famous for being a sensitive soul himself), along with some Leona Lewis, LFMAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” and something called “Don’t Talk Just Kiss” by a band named Right Said Fred.

And he sent his wife, in all dead seriousness, a Blake Shelton song that he apparently felt expressed his feelings.”I’ve been a walking heartache / I’ve made a mess of me / The person that I’ve been lately / Ain’t who I wanna be.”  (Syrians might agree that he hasn’t been his best self lately.) But: you’re gonna go with terrible radio-pop country? Really? We would normally make a joke about how this is the worst offense of all, but with this guy … yeah, no. Probably not actually the worst. Though it’s up there.

Murderous Dictator Also Has Bad Taste in Music