“…black-and-white TV, the occasional night tram, my white girlfriend, an exclusive imported programme…”
Forty years after the release of this Prljavo Kazalište song – made when the band was at the peak of its musical, civic and creative potential – the “exclusive imported programme” continues to affect our lives.
The exclusive imported programme marked this week, too, on the (dis) information landscape in our country.
We refer to the importation of manipulations served by Serbian tabloids, and increasingly by the “professional” media as well. Nothing new here, we’d say, nor anything we are not used to.
This phenomenon has been occurring, to a greater or lesser extent, at least for the last 150 years. Those familiar with history know that it has been happening from the times of Njegoš to the present day, and only the naive believe that it would ever stop.
However, the problem lies in the fact that our society’s hardened conservatives, large in numbers and well spread out, have looked for the solution in others, i.e. outside Montenegro.
Coupled with the persistent attacks by the Greater Serbian ethno-nationalists, this problem in our country entails that the outside influences, over and above the great damage they do to the society, may also be used politically in a way that can have its benefits.
It provides the Government with a ready-made Bogeyman which can be shown at need to the citizens, as an example of what Montenegro would look like if the Government were not re-elected. Consequently, the Government tolerates these phenomena and beats its breast about it, with the goal of locking another 30 years of power.
Were it not so, serious reforms and actions to oppose disinformation would be initiated through the creation of a modern legal framework, support for the right media, campaigns against fake news, and the raising of media literacy and citizen awareness.
We are all well aware that the real and sustainable solution to this problem is not to retaliate, show hatred towards the Serbs, or wait for the Serbian ethno-nationalists to attain enlightenment and become more respectful of others. The ones who see this as the solution are not much different from the ones who lash out.
There was another interesting phenomenon that made its comeback last week. Helped by social networks and the like-minded media, historical revisionists struck again, this time against the symbols of the struggle of our peoples in the fight for freedom and a more just society – against Stjepan Filipović and Koča Popović.
Namely, some presented us with “proof” that Stjepan had been the executor of “peasants under suspicion”, while others, that Koča had smiled sweetly arm-in-arm with the Nazi occupiers.
It did not take much time or intelligence to debunk these “truths”. Rooting out the ethno-nationalism, clericalism, and revisionism that have been disseminated for years and with astonishing vigor all over Montenegro will, however, take long.
As they were so kind to explain, we should not “look at the world in black and white”, it is all in the nuances, because they have certain “proof” that the two men were not exactly what we thought them to be.
They also explained that “history was written by the victors”, and Lo, they happened upon “exclusive evidence” and made an “immeasurable” contribution to humanity in this field. As useful as a chocolate teapot, both the evidence and the contribution.
The ethno-nationalist checkpoints established in Montenegro to radicalize people do not want a “black-and-white world”. They want “intellectual breadth” that consists in lies and manipulation. Unlike Kazalište, the prefer the likes of turbo-folk performers Stoja, Ceca, or Zorica, or a well-nuanced kolo under a tent.
The goal is, in fact, to destroy anything that is civic, libertarian, secular; anything that does not care about religions or nations and thinks independently. The goal, therefore, is to bring down civic society. And, honestly, they are not half bad at it…
So use your head! Read carefully, and think even more carefully about what is served to you these days.