background image
43
not the point. She went up in front of the stage and just let it out. This was not the
correct forum for that.
"Our first and only priority is the enjoyment of our customers," he added. "I
made the decision to ask Ms. Ronstadt to leave the hotel. There were a lot of angry
people after she started talking. A situation like that can easily turn ugly and I
didn't want anything more to come out of it."
86
Interestingly, Timmins' ban of Ronstadt for life was largely baseless, because at
the time the Aladdin was bankrupt and up for sale. It did sell, to the owners of
the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, soon afterwards. The Planet Hollywood
CEO attempted to set things right by saying that Ronstadt would be welcome
back in the future, and even jokingly invited Moore to come sing as well.
After the media frenzy subsided, Ronstadt told Rolling Stone that she had no
regrets, reinforcing that she continued to offer the "Desperado " dedication at
every one of her concerts, including those during the height of the controversy.
"It's like my independent poll," she said. "I have never seen a reaction like this in
all my years of touring. This is an election year. I want people to get their head up
out of their mashed potatoes and learn something about the issues and go vote...
I don't think this is the time to back down."
87
While the Ronstadt incident at the Aladdin is clearly a case of censorship, it is
also worth noting on a more subtle level: the oversensitivity of the Aladdin staff
to Ronstadt's insertion of an opinionated political comment or context into her
performance. Obviously, the Aladdin staff did not have a problem with all politi-
cal contexts. The Aladdin had displayed patriotic banners, shown support for
troops and war efforts, and had allowed other performers to mention less contro-
versial sentiments about the war on terror. Yet when Ronstadt offered her dedica-
tion to Moore, the reaction was quick, visceral, and adamant. The Aladdin seemed
less concerned with appropriate action and more concerned with immediately
distancing themselves with Ronstadt's statements. And the management felt that
the only way to acutely express their distance from Ronstadt was to openly and
intentionally humiliate her. From a purely business perspective, it is arguably
understandable: with the growing intolerance for dissent in America, the Aladdin
would not want to find itself on boycott lists over one performer's dedication.
Also, the news media deserves some chastisement in this case for simply
repeating claims that were made with very little effort placed on reporting the
events, vetting the information, or attempting to find out the truth about the inci-
dent. As a result of their failings, we now have no clear idea how many people left
the event in protest or if any actions against Ronstadt or the Aladdin actually took
place (such as the reported cup throwing or poster ripping).