Tag Archives: Serbia

On Amy Winehouse debacle

Note: This post started as my take on Amy Winehouse disastrous concert in Belgrade, but somehow transformed into a personal rant on hate speech against Serbia.

In case you didn’t hear, Amy Winehouse’s Belgrade concert turned out to be a complete debacle. There are various videos to prove it what happened a few nights ago at the Belgrade fortress.

The author of these videos is my friend Iva. One of her YT video gained a huge popularity, but then YT disabled it without offering a good reason. The fact it’s a bootleg wasn’t the reason given; after all, so many other concert videos are still there. No. They called my friend a spammer and a scammer. So, I guess somebody doesn’t want people to see this video, which is silly; you can’t stop the Internet. AP has it, and it’s virtually everywhere at the moment.

To watch it and read the full story, visit Iva’s website. But please, remember this is not an opportunity to laugh at Amy Winehouse and her condition.

Amy Winehouse video disabled on YT

But, there’s more. The Amy Winehouse thing is a popular stuff at the moment, and it’s saddening to see how little respect certain journalists (and others) have. I’m not talking about Amy at the moment (though that one is saddening, too), I’m talking about my country.

Amy’s newest embarrassing performance happened in Belgrade, Serbia, and not in London, UK; and for some reason, there are reporters who seem to think that it’s quite different because it happened on the Balkans. That the audience and the country somehow deserve less respect than, say, US audience in New York. Or that it’s somehow our fault or our embarrassment.

But in a way, the situation IS different for us. First of all, it’s much, much more difficult for us here to spend 40 euros on a concert ticket (many people work for less than 200 euros per month). It doesn’t mean we deserve a special treatment, but is it so difficult to grasp how disappointing and humiliating this was for people here?

The latest slap in the face came from Chelsea Handler (who the heck is this person anyway?), who tried to mock Amy Winehouse, but ended up throwing hateful comments on Serbia. This kind of ignorant junk we haven’t heard since… Well, yesterday. It never stopped; the hate speech against Serbia is still going strong. But do we need yet another ignorant Westerner and her hate speech? Is this really what Americans see as funny? Laughing at other cultures?

I am quite upset will all of this. And I’m not even sure why; I’m sure not particularly patriotic (and nationalists call people like me “traitors”). But I do feel hurt, and I do feel insulted, and I do feel so fucking tired of being reminded how unworthy, evil and disgusting my country and its people are. I’ve been listening that since I was 10. I’ve been hungry, and humiliated and treated as inferior, and I was forced to hide in the basement while the bombs were falling. I’m tired, and I’m so fucking angry and sick of it.

Here’s the thing. People in Serbia love good music. And my generation lacked the opportunity to see and hear their favourite musicians. It might seem disrespectful, or simplified, to illustrate all the mess and humiliation and hunger and embargo and war and bombing and other shit with the fact we were unable to go to concerts… But it’s a telling example.

I rarely resort to “you don’t know what is like” speech, but, seriously, do you know what is like to be desperate for this kind of events? It’s not just the concerts, though my generation IS desperate for it. Musicians visiting our country – that simple thing (that was taken for granted in the generation before mine, and yes, it was during socialism, btw), that simple thing means so much to us here.

We’re all sick of being insulted as a nation, and called names (and compared to Nazis: which hurts tremendously, because this country had suffered a lot during WWII and people here were never Nazi supporters), and seen as a source of all evil (accompanied with the usual hate and disgust for the Balkans), and humiliated and treated as inferior. It continues even today. And I’m sick and tired of it.

A privilege game

Here’s a “step forward/step back” game of privilege. I found it on tumblr.com.

Simply count how many forward steps you have and how many back steps you have, and that’s your result. What your result means, however, is another story. (More about it later)

(Refresh if image refuses do load).

Step forward, step back

My result is 10 steps forward, 8 back.

The first thing I have to note about this list is that it reeks of US (Western) privilege. Many of the stuff listed can’t apply to the rest of the world, and there ARE people in the rest of the world, thankyouverymuch. For example, the fact I didn’t go to a private school is a perfectly expectable in my country, since private schools/universities appeared only in the past decade or so, and they all suck a big time. Plus, education was (is?) free here. And that’s just one thing.

Another thing to note is, while this sort of lists are a good for discussing privilege, they should not be taken literally- for example, the fact I was never discriminated based on my gender doesn’t mean women, in general, are not discriminated. Also, the list can be taken as a source for the dangerous, yet, popular sport, called “oppression Olympics”, which is never a good thing.

My result in details

+ means it applies to me, – that it doesn’t. f is for step forward, b for step back.

1f. My family owned their own home. +
1b. They both graduated from university and my father was a PhD. –

2f. None in my family was a doctor or a lawyer, but we’re all professionals. +
2b. Home state… You mean country? I didn’t. +

3f. There were no people of colour or working class people working for my family. –
3b. I am not black, Latina, Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian, Arab or Native American. –

4f. I did study history and culture of my ethnic group in school. +
4b. I was never denied a job or paid less because of my gender. –

5f. I’ve never written such a letter. –
5b. No incest, etc. –

6f. I am not a man. –
6b. I was raised by my mother. –

7f. I’ve never worked in a job with non-whites. –
7b. There was a problem of alcohol abuse in my family. +

8f. We had more than 50 books. +
8b. It did happen (for both personal and non-personal reasons) +

9f. They did tell me this. +
9b. No. –

10f. They did take me to galleries, museums, etc. +
10b. Yes. +

11f. No private schools. –
11b. I was taught that I police were someone to be feared. +

12f. I didn’t grow up thinking my family would pay for college because college was free. Plus, I had to work while in University. –
12b. No. (Though I didn’t understand why this is on the step back side). –

13f. I don’t believe police would help. –
13b. I was never hungry or worried as a child. –

14f. Yes. +
14b. No. –

15f. No. –
15b. Yes. +

16f. Since only white people live here, the answer is yes: all of my friends are white. If we forget about race and put “ethnicity” then no, most of my friends are not of the same ethnicity as I am. –
16b. No. –

17f. If we’re talking about race, then yes. +
17b. Eh… yes and no. I wasn’t sure what to put here: I never lived in a dangerous neighbourhood, but where I lived was hardly safe at times, so let’s put “+” here. +

18f. Let’s say yes- people on TV are of the same race as I am. +
18b. Yes, I was often hesitant to reveal my family’s religious beliefs. +

19f. They did take me to museums, etc. I thought there was another similar question. +
19b. I am heterosexual. -

Kosovo independence

I’d wish to live in “boring times”, but that does not depend on me, now does it. Until I decide to move faar away on some forgotten Pacific island, I’ll have to live in historically exciting times, which is, as we all know, a bad thing.

So, yeah, Kosovo declared independence a week ago. I just “love” to read online comments on this, coming from the people all over the world. Especially coming from the people who don’t have any knowledge on this matter.

Now, before I state my opinion, I’ll tell you that I live in Serbia and therefore my opinion (and historical knowledge) can differ than those posed by CNN (or similar). If you want to know my position better, I can tell you I’m a student of a historical humanity (archaeology), I’m a female, and I’m not 100% Serb, I’m part Croatian, Bulgarian, Austrian and Polish (ethnicity does matter in this story, I’m afraid). I’ve been living in Belgrade, capital of Yugoslavia, then Serbian and Montenegro, now Serbia, for all my life. I was anti- Milosevic since I was 10 and I do believe he did many bad things even to his own people, but all of the major sides involved in breaking up of Yugoslavia had their own Milosevics. I have friends and relatives from all over former Yugoslavia, just like most of the people here do. My best friend is a Serbian refugee from Bosnia, and I know some things that happen in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia during the 90s, so yeah, I do feel competent to say a few things here. More competent than random chick from … somewhere who could not find Balkans (or Europe for that matter) on the map.

Anyway, Kosovo declared “independence” last Sunday, an event that polarized the world. Sure, Albanians are happy, Serbs are not, because they’re left without a very important part of their country. Though you might not see it, many politicians, journalists, and general people are also intrigued with Kosovo independence and there’s no general opinion on the matter.

So, why did I use quotation marks when I said “independence”? Because Kosovars are not independent, all they got is “limited recognition” under EU and other world organizations. Now, the term “Kosovars” itself is really bad, it does not really exists here. All you have is Serbs from Kosovo, and Albanians from Kosovo, not “Kosovars”. So, “Kosovars” already have their own, independent country, and it’s called Albania; they consider themselves Albanians, so there’s no need to call them differently.

Albanians make 92% of today Kosovo’s population, while Serbs and other nationalities make under 8%. But that land is incredibly important to all Serbs, because it’s cradle of Serbian cultural identity. Kosovo was part of medieval Serbian kingdom, and most important Serbian monasteries are built there. It is, in all meaning of the words, the heart of Serbia. And not to mention Serbs who still live there, who are now cut off from their own country. So, you can’t just give such important part of your country to other people, now can you?

We were bombed in 1999 because Milosevic did war crimes against Albanians (which he did, more than Serbian media reported, but less than westerns and Albanians claim), yet, Albanian terrorists did war crimes against Serbian civilians on Kosovo at the same time, and nobody cares. Serbia got bombed, more than 500 civilians (both Serbian and Albanian) were killed, and that was not violation of human rights? Many thousands of Albanians became refugees in 1999, but many thousands of Serbs had to leave their homes as well, but you just hear about “Kosovar” (meaning: Albanian) refugees. Those refugees got back to Kosovo after the bombing, but Serbs never got back to their homeland and still live as refugees. Many Serbian civilians were killed by Kosovar terroristic organization KLA, but some of KLA leaders, such as Agim Ceku or Hashim Thaci, are now high Kosovar politicians (Taci is PM). Do you believe Serbs from Kosovo feel safe? Many of them were killed by KLA in 2004, medieval monasteries were damaged, yet, nobody called that ethnic cleansing. Double standards, perhaps?

So, why double standards? Why US wanted so badly to give Kosovo independence? Because they care about poor Albanians tortured by evil Serbs? First of all, Albanians tortured Serbs as well. Second, “evil Serbs” did not have any power within their own land since 1999, because it was UN protection territory and KFOR forces were there to decide about war, peace and all the other things. Kosovo had its parliament (let by war criminals) and yet, Albanians did not live any better than before, because Kosovo’s economy is very low and the only things that blossom there, are smuggling of heroin, weapons and women. Serbs are left on the north parts of Kosovo or enclaves on the south, and are really afraid for their lives.

But, for some reason that we can discuss, US wanted independent Kosovo at all causes. US even made a pressure to many European countries to recognize Kosovo. Why? We can all have our own conspiracy theory, including interest in Kosovo’s oil (unexplored till now), destabilization of Europe, or Russia, but the most popular, and the most likely, is the need for a strategic military base in Europe. They need a military platform in Europe, and Poland and Czech are not really keen on giving Americans build platforms in their countries (or anybody else, for that matter). That has nothing to do with Serbs, Albanians, ethnic cleansing, freedom, or somebody’s cultural identity.

I do not hate Americans (though I’m not fan of their government), but what would such a young nation know about medieval shrines and hundreds of years of somebody’s cultural identity? The only people who live that long (and much longer, for that matter) in America are almost all killed or forced to live in reservations. They do not rule America today.