How Dare You Can Be Googoosha?

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by Nathan Hamm on 1/10/2013 · 3 comments

The following is a guest post from Davron Ibragimov.

The late 2012 English-language music video “How Dare” by Googoosha (aka Gulnora Karimova, daughter of Uzbekistan’s dictator-president Islom Karimov) is, 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.

Perhaps “How Dare” is Googoosha’s lament about feeling trapped in her predicament as the daughter of a brutal dictator, with all the trappings of power at her disposal, but with no imaginable way to escape. In her parallel gendered verses “You [He] look fine, but what’s going on in your mind” and “She looks fine, but has a hundred things in her mind,” Googoosha suggests that both have “soul” issues. The refrain

How dare, how dare, how dare you can be so different?
How dare, how dare, how dare you can do it?
How dare, how dare, how dare you can be so different?
How dare, how dare, how dare you can break the wall?

Who dares? Is Googoosha’s the voice of jealousy that others can do what they want, but she is trapped by her position at the top of society? Or is it society’s voice (Uzbekistan? The international community?) judging her for trying to break free from the chains of her pre-defined identity and behaving in ways that are acceptable only for a man in her society (i.e., wielding economic and political power) or like a Westerner, in ways her father’s government inconsistently emphasizes are unacceptable for Uzbeks. The object of the song’s scorn is ambiguous. The transformation of Man-Hunk into Googoosha in the final shot reinforces this ambiguity. Is she the woman driving the man to exercise physical power or is she the man wielding that power because she can? Googoosha’s decision to sing a particular Uzbek song at a music awards ceremony she recently hosted in Tashkent suggests that she might have her eye on her father’s position. The song’s lyrics, involving a daughter addressing her father “If you want, I can be 1000 sons for you…” sparked much public speculation that she was acknowledging her ambition to succeed her 73-year old father as leader of Uzbekistan.

But the video itself also may be a reflection of Gulnora’s and her society’s (its elite circles’, anyway) all too frequent habit of confiscating and using weaker fellow citizens’ possessions and wealth for a time, only to destroy them in the end, of the persistent, but often fruitless effort by the majority of Uzbekistan’s citizens to build up businesses and livelihoods only to have them appropriated, sold off, and destroyed by those who can get away with it. The benefits to her of playing such destructive games with impunity are great, but limited to her home country Uzbekistan. For example, her attempt to buy success in the West by purchasing an advertisement in Billboard magazine to bolster her false claim that she had become a pop sensation in the U.S. paid no dividends outside Tashkent.

One final note. It is curious that the English lyrics of this and most of the album’s other songs are so awkward. They clearly have not been edited by a native speaker or anyone who knows English better than she does. How dare anyone correct her English?


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This post was written by...

– author of 2992 posts on Registan.net.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 3 comments }

Schwartz January 11, 2013 at 6:24 am

Rarely has recent history seen a Freudian sociopolitical-psychodrama played out so publicly and clearly as Gulnara. I “like” the analysis of this post (insofar as one can be edified by reading about the symbolization of a society’s systematic pillaging by its own government).

I would only add that one could also note the strange Elektra Complex-like tensions going on in the lyrics and the video, not to mention a strangely Lefortian-Lacanian translation of class conflict. By the latter I don’t mean as the author describes it, from top down, but rather from down up: an unconscious referral to the Uzbekistani population’s simmering discontent against the regime, as manifested in the neo-liberal veneer of rennovated Tashkent…

sadasdsa February 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm

sadasdsa February 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm

alert(‘This is the XSS attack! Fix it please’)

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